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NATO and Russia Won’t Start World War III Over a Drone

Image Credit: Social Media Screenshot.

On Tuesday, a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet damaged a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper and forced it to crash-land in the water.

And yet, one day after the incident over the Black Sea, the war in Ukraine continues as if nothing happened. It is unlikely that the Russian aggressive action will lead to an escalation

On day 385 of the conflict, the Russian military and Wagner Group mercenaries are still looking for an operational breakthrough. 

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

The Russian forces continue to suffer heavy losses on the ground. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader and funder of the infamous private military company Wagner Group, indicated that his forces would play a smaller role in the conflict after the Battle of Bakhmut is over.

This is likely the result of the extremely heavy losses that the Russian mercenaries have suffered in the fighting.

Western intelligence assessments indicate that Wagner Group has lost between 20,000 and 30,000 men in and around Bakhmut alone. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 161,520 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number)

Destroyed equipment includes: 304 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 289 attack and transport helicopters, 3,492 tanks, 2,528 artillery pieces, 6,799 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 502 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,377 vehicles and fuel tanks, 262 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,132 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 257 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. 

Where Do You Think You’re Going?

It is an understatement to say that the war in Ukraine hasn’t gone according to plan for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

What was supposed to be a quick campaign that would last a handful of days has turned into the biggest conflict Russia has been engaged in since the end of World War Two in 1945. 

The path the conflict has taken has dissatisfied a lot of people in Russia, many of who might be under flight risk.

Officials with insider knowledge could be very useful to Western intelligence services. The Kremlin understands that and has been taking passports and restricting travel.

The Kremlin has been steadily imposing more travel restrictions on its people. Indeed, its people aren’t allowed to travel abroad for leisure without specific authorization.

Travel restrictions were first tightened up after the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula back in 2014. 

Clearly, Putin and his Kremlin advisers fear perfidy. The widespread war crimes committed by the Russian forces in the war, the utter illegal pretext of invading Ukraine, and the international outcry triggered by the invasion are to have made many officials rethink their loyalty to Putin and his murderous regime. 

“The measures are likely designed to prevent the flight or defection of increasingly disaffected officials,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

“There is a realistic possibility that as the securitisation of the Russian state continues, travel restrictions will be tightened for an increasing number of public sector employees,” the British Military Intelligence added.

It is clear that the war isn’t going well for Russia.

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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. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

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.