Ukraine War Update – Here Comes the Leopard 2: The war in Ukraine continues for day 372.
There is heavy fighting in and around Bakhmut.
The Russian forces have been making progress, and the situation is starting to become precarious for the Ukrainian forces there.
Meanwhile, the first Leopard 2 main battle tanks have arrived in Ukraine.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine: An Update
The Russian forces have been making some progress in and around Bakhmut over the past few days, but that has come at the cost of heavy casualties.
Over the last 48 hours, the Russian military and Wagner Group private military company have lost close to 1,400 troops killed or wounded in combat.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 150,605 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number).
Destroyed equipment included: 300 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 288 attack and transport helicopters, 3,397 tanks, 2,398 artillery pieces, 6,658 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 480 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,264 vehicles and fuel tanks, 247 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,058 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.
Leopard 2 Tanks Have Arrived in Ukraine
The first Leopard 2 main battle tanks have arrived in Ukraine. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced recently announced that the first four Leopard 2 tanks have been delivered to the Ukrainian military.
It will take some time before we see the German-made main battle tank in action on the fields and streets of Ukraine.
Ukrainian crews have to be first trained on the weapon system, and more Leopard 2s must arrive to form whole platoons and companies in order to achieve the maximum impact on the battlefield.
To get to Ukraine, the Leopard 2s had to go through a geopolitical saga with many players.
As the manufacturer and exporter of the main battle tank, Germany had to greenlight any transfers by third countries.
But Berlin was opposed to sending the tank to Ukraine altogether.
Several countries, including Poland, even threatened to take unilateral action and send the tanks to embattled Ukraine without legal approval from Germany.
In the end, however, the German government relented after much geopolitical pressure—including the U.S. decision to send 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks.
Berlin announced that it would be sending several Leopard 2 tanks and also gave the green light to third countries to send theirs.
The Battle for Bakhmut
The fighting in and around Bakhmut continues.
The situation is getting harder for the Ukrainian forces, and Kyiv might opt to withdraw its troops from the town to live and fight another day.
However, the seasonal Rasputitsa, the seas of mud that come after the thawing of the winter snows, is slowly starting, and that would seriously hinder any large-scale evacuation effort as even tracked vehicles have difficulty on any unpaved roads.
And yet, Ukrainian officials remain confident that they can manage an orderly withdrawal from the town if the need arises.
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. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.