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Putin’s Greatest Fear: Is the Russian Military Doomed in Ukraine?

T-90M. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
T-90M Tank from Russia. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Ukraine War Update: In more than a year of combat in Ukraine, Russian forces have failed to achieve any of their primary objectives.

Despite the heavy losses—Russia has lost around 200,000 men killed and wounded, according to Western intelligence estimatesRussian President Vladimir Putin seems committed to his original plans. 

On day 369 of the Russian invasion, the fighting seems to have no end in sight as the Russian forces continue to launch offensive operations in the Donbas against Bakhmut and Vuhledar. 

The Russian Casualties in Ukraine 

The Russian forces continue to lose men left and right. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 148,690 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number)

Destroyed equipment includes: 300 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 288 attack and transport helicopters, 3,385 tanks, 2,380 artillery pieces, 6,621 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 475 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,248 vehicles and fuel tanks, 247 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,048 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 230 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 873 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses. 

Iranian Suicide Drones 

For the past couple of weeks, the Ukrainian military hasn’t reported any attacks by Iranian suicide drones, also known as one-way-attack uncrewed aerial vehicles, against its positions. 

One of the main weapon systems Iran has been sending Russia is the Shahed-136 loitering munition.

This suicide drone carries a small explosive warhead over a long range and can be very effective in capable hands. 

“This lack of OWA-UAV deployments likely indicates that Russia has run down its current stock. Russia will likely seek a resupply,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate of the war.

In January and the first two weeks of February, the Ukrainian military reported shooting down more than 60 Shahed-136 loitering munitions. T

he Russian forces have been using the Iranian suicide drones to distract and confuse the Ukrainian air defenses and open the way for ballistic and cruise missiles.

Ukrainian air defenses have a hard time differentiating between incoming loitering munitions and missiles.

“Although the weapons do not have a good record in destroying their intended targets, Russia likely sees them as useful decoys which can divert Ukrainian air defences from more effective Russian cruise missiles,” the British Military Intelligence stated.

The Russian military has largely outsourced its drone requirements to Iran due to the inability of the Russian defense and aerospace industry to produce enough weapon systems and munitions to meet the extremely high demands of the Russian forces

In October, the Russian military changed its approach in Ukraine and started using ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukrainian urban centers and critical infrastructure in an attempt to break the will of the Ukrainian population before the winter.

Although millions of Ukrainians have been forced to live without basic necessities, such as electricity, water, heat, and internet, the will of the Ukrainian people not only didn’t bend but is now stronger than ever. 

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Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. 

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.