On day 393 of the conflict in Ukraine, the Russian military and Wagner Group mercenaries are pushing hard against several different points in the Donbas. The towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka are under heavy fire, but the Ukrainian defenders are holding on.
Meanwhile, Ukraine will be receiving its first M1 Abrams tanks from the U.S. sooner than expected, and that could affect the future of the weapon system in Ukrainian service.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine: An Update
Moscow continues to lose men in the fighting in Ukraine and is having trouble replacing its heavy losses.
Perhaps the worst thing for the Kremlin is that it has very little to show for the losses it has suffered on the ground. Indeed, the Russian military has failed to achieve any of its primary objectives in the war even after 13 months.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 168,150 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number).
Destroyed equipment includes: 305 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 290 attack and transport helicopters, 3,570 tanks, 2,608 artillery pieces, 6,898 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 511 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,452 vehicles and fuel tanks, 273 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,203 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 273 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 909 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The Future of the Ukrainian M1 Abrams Tanks
On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that Ukraine would receive the promised 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks on an expedited schedule, with the first deliveries taking place in the fall.
But the expedited delivery schedule means that the Ukrainian military will be receiving older, refurbished tanks rather than brand new ones. Instead of the M1A2 Abrams, the Ukrainian forces will be getting the M1A1 SA version of the tank.
According to the U.S. Army, the M1A1 SA “is as survivable and maneuverable as the more modern variants with upgrades such as powertrain improvements and a Blue Force Tracker – a digital command-and-control system that gives commanders information about their location relative to friendly forces.”
Eventually, the Ukrainian military will need to upgrade its tank arsenal with Western weapon systems to ensure interoperability and more efficient logistical lines. The decision to send Kyiv the refurbished M1A1 SA Abrams instead of a newer version could also have long-term consequences for the Ukrainian military as there are countries that could provide additional tanks of the type to Kyiv.
For example, the Australian military will soon be retiring around 60 M1A1 Abrams tanks that sport unclassified armor that has been approved for export (U.S. tanks have depleted uranium armor that has to be removed first because it’s considered classified).
Although thousands of miles away, Australia has provided important security aid to Ukraine, showcasing once again its commitment to Western ideals.
The U.S. Marine Corps also recently retired more than 400 M1A1 Abrams, which could be sent to Ukraine after refitting (the 31 tanks committed to Ukraine are likely coming from this pool).
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.