It is experiencing many casualties and little success.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
According to official Ukrainian estimates, Russian forces have lost more than 18,000 vehicles and big weapon systems in the war so far.
The Oryx open-source intelligence website has visually verified more than 9,000 of these.
Western sanctions are also taking a toll on the Russian defense and aerospace industries, making it vastly harder for the Russian Ministry of Defense to replenish stocks of munitions and vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainians continue to benefit from Western military aid.
They also claim they have destroyed 296 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 286 attack and transport helicopters; 3,286 tanks, 2,299 artillery pieces, and 6,500 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 466 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 18 boats and cutters; 5,155 vehicles and fuel tanks; 234 anti-aircraft batteries; 2,011 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 218 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 857 cruise missiles shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.
Russian Military Reshuffles
In January, the Russian Ministry of Defense dismissed Col. Gen. Mikhail Teplinsky, a Russian Airborne Forces, or VDV, paratrooper and one of Russia’s most significant operational commanders in Ukraine.
Teplinsky was in charge of the orderly Russian withdrawal from the western bank of the Dnipro River in November. After the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east in September, the Russian commanders decided to pull back from their exposed positions in the south, in Kherson, so as not to lose more men in vain again.
“There is a realistic possibility that debate over the tasks the VDV has been given has contributed to his dismissal,” British Military Intelligence assessed. “VDV has often been employed in ground holding roles traditionally given to the mechanized infantry.”
A separate service in the Russian Armed Forces, the VDV airborne forces are Moscow’s strategic reserve.
VDV paratroopers spearheaded the Russian invasion and the push toward Kyiv. However, their image has crumpled in Ukraine after successive defeats and heavy losses.
“Teplinsky’s dismissal is likely another symptom of continued divisions within the senior hierarchy of Russia’s operation as General Valery Gerasimov attempts to impose his personal authority on the campaign,” British Military Intelligence added.
The Russian military can hardly spare any able commanders as the war takes an increasingly bad turn for the Kremlin and for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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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. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.