The fighting in and around Bakhmut continues. After an influx of reinforcements and fresh units in the area, the Ukrainian military managed to stabilize the front line and stop the Russian momentum. But the situation for the Ukrainian defenders continues to be precarious.
Russian troops and Wagner Group mercenaries are attacking Bakhmut from three directions and have the Ukrainian lines of communication and supply under fire.
The Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Russian advances in and around Bakhmut have come with a high cost in troops and weapon systems. Several Russian units have been rendered combat ineffective by the fighting, while Russian commanders continue to rely on human wave attacks to bend the Ukrainian resistance.
Destroyed equipment includes: 304 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 289 attack and transport helicopters, 3,448 tanks, 2,475 artillery pieces, 6,742 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 491 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,337 vehicles and fuel tanks, 256 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,107 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 240 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 907 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
Russian Air Operations from Belarus
Although Belarus isn’t a warring party in the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin continues to use the country to support its invasion.
Situated to the north of Ukraine, Belarus played a key part in the opening stages of the war. The Russian mechanized force that pushed toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv at the onset of the war came from Belarus.
As the operations have shifted to the south and east of Ukraine, the Russian military continues to use Belarus as a staging base for aircraft that launch cruise missiles into Ukrainian urban centers and critical infrastructure. To support the fighter jets that conduct these strikes, the Russian Aerospace Forces have stationed airborne command and control aircraft in Belarus.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that something—most likely a Ukrainian suicide drone—attacked and damaged one of the A-50 Mainstay early warning and control aircraft stationed in Belarus.
Reports of the strike had emerged in the previous days, and satellite imagery showed some damage.
“The MAINSTAY was likely providing situational awareness for MiG-31K FOXHOUND D fighter aircraft modified to launch the AS-24 KILLJOY air launched ballistic missile which Russia sees as a key strategic capability,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate of the war.
According to the British Military Intelligence, the Russian military redeployed the damaged aircraft—it could fly but not effectively—back to Russia to undergo repairs.
“The modification saw the jets’ internal radar removed to balance the airframe, making pilots reliant on external sources of situational awareness, such as MAINSTAY,” the British Military Intelligence added.
As a result, Russian air operations against Ukrainian cities are likely to be hindered by the damage to the A-50 Mainstay.
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Author Biography and Expertise
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.