The Russian forces continue to bash their head into the wall of the Ukrainian defenses with little success. On day 398, the Russian military is trying to find weak spots on the Ukrainian line of contact in order to achieve an operational breakthrough.
There is still fighting inside and around the town of Bakhmut. But the Russian military and Wagner Group private military company are moving troops around the battlefield in an attempt to exploit other opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military is growing stronger with the delivery of Western weapon systems.
Western Weapon Systems in Ukraine
The Ukrainian forces are starting to receive the first batches of the latest weapon systems committed by the West.
Kyiv announced that its military has received a number of Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and M1126 Stryker and M1A1 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, respectively, from the U.S. and Germany. In addition, the Ukrainian forces have received their first Challenger 2 and Leopard 2 main battle tanks, respectively, from the United Kingdom and Germany.
The first Challenger 2 main battle tanks have arrived in Ukraine from the United Kingdom.
The Ukrainian troops undergoing training on the Challenger 2 main battle tanks in the U.K. are also returning back to their country trained and ready to fight. The British-made tanks will be firing depleted uranium munitions, something that caused quite a diplomatic row last week.
The U.K. was the first country to commit main battle tanks (a squadron of 14 Challenger 2s) to Ukraine. Soon thereafter, the U.S. joined the “tank coalition” and committed 31 M1A1 Abrams, pushing Germany to finally relent and commit Leopard 2 tanks and also greenlight the transfer of the tank from third countries to Ukraine.
The Challenger 2 and Leopard 2 tanks are expected to contribute to the upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive in the late spring or early summer. However, the M1A1 Abrams won’t be in Ukraine until the fall.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Russian forces continue to take casualties on the ground. However, over the past 48 hours, the rate of Russian casualties has slowed down, suggesting fewer offensive operations. Indeed, the Russian military and Wagner Group have largely lost their momentum, despite the heavy losses they took to gain it in the first place.
Destroyed weapons include: 305 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 291 attack and transport helicopters, 3,602 tanks, 2,653 artillery pieces, 6,966 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 525 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,502 vehicles and fuel tanks, 277 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,235 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 287 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 911 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The Ukrainian forces have, too, been suffering heavy losses, especially in defense of Bakhmut. But Kyiv has done a better job at force generation and can’t only rotate troops in and out of the frontlines but also create mobile reserves.
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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.