Ukraine War Update: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has been characterized by a series of humiliating defeats and extremely heavy casualties for the Russian forces.
Lately, however, the Russian forces have been suffering fewer casualties. But this downward trend has more to do with the battlefield situation than with any improvements in the Russian operational approach.
A Downward Trend
The Russian forces continue to take significant casualties on the ground in Ukraine. However, there is a downward trend in the number of troops the Russian military Wagner Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces are losing.
The British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest update that Russian casualties “has likely fallen by around 30 per cent” compared to the period of January to March.
“Figures released by the Ukrainian General Staff suggest a reduction from a daily average of 776 Russian casualties in March, to an average of 568 so far in April. Defence Intelligence cannot verify Ukraine’s exact methodology, but the general trend is likely accurate,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
Here at 19FortyFive, we have been covering trends on Russian casualties and have pointed out that April is looking to be the month with the least casualties for the Russian forces since November.
“Russia’s losses have highly likely reduced as their attempted winter offensive has failed to achieve its objectives, and Russian forces are now focused on preparing for anticipated Ukrainian offensive operations,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Total Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Overall, the Russian forces have lost between 187,000 and 220,000 troops killed or wounded. The lower end of the spectrum reflects the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s claims (as of Tuesday), while the higher end of the spectrum reflects the assessments of Western intelligence agencies (as of February/March).
In terms of materiel casualties, the Russian forces have lost an astounding 23,500 heavy ground weapon systems and vehicles, according to Ukrainian estimates. The independent open-source investigation firm Oryx puts the visually verified number of heavy ground Russian weapon systems at just above 10,000. However, the Oryx team acknowledges that their assessment doesn’t accurately reflect the complete materiel losses that the Russian forces have suffered.
“This list only includes destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or videographic evidence is available. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here,” the Oryx team states on its website.
Whether you take the Ukrainian estimates or the ones from Oryx, one thing is clear. The Russian forces have lost a significant amount of their combat power in the war in Ukraine. The worst thing for the Kremlin is that it doesn’t have anything to show for these losses. The Russian forces have repeatedly failed to achieve any of the objectives Moscow has set, even after revising those objectives several times to reflect the situation on the ground.
The current war of attrition could benefit Russia if Western support for Ukraine diminishes. However, 14 months into the war, the West looks committed to the Ukrainian fight for freedom.
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.