The Russian forces continue to pressure all across the Donbas in a desperate search for an operational breakthrough. However, on day 411 of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military is still looking for that victory that would justify the extremely heavy casualties it has been taking on the ground.
The Russian forces continue to lose men on the ground in Ukraine.
Over the weekend, the Russian military and Wagner Group private military company lost more than 1,000 men killed or wounded, 21 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 15 vehicles and fuel tanks, 18 artillery pieces, eight armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, and three tanks, among other weapon systems.
At first sight, these are unimpressive casualties—perhaps with the exception of the manpower losses. However, added together, they make up for considerable losses. Indeed, with four weekends in a month, the Russian forces are losing more than a brigade worth of troops just on the weekends of every month. And these casualties are rather light compared to previous weeks.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 178820 Russian troops.
Destroyed equipment includes: 307 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 292 attack and transport helicopters, 3,637 tanks, 2,750 artillery pieces, 7,028 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 534 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,607 vehicles and fuel tanks, 282 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,223 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 311 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.
Russian Assaults in the Donbas
Over the last week, the Russian forces focused much of their attention on the town of Marinka, which is located south of Bakhmut and southwest of Donetsk City, the provincial capital of Donetsk Province.
Marinka isn’t new to war. The town has been at the center of fighting since 2014, when pro-Russian separatist forces, with the assistance of the Russian military, tried to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.
Nine years of war have largely destroyed the town. But the two militaries continue to fight for it because “it command[s] the approaches to Donetsk and the key H15 road,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
But despite the concentrated efforts against Marinka, the Russian military hasn’t achieved anything of consequence. Indeed, the Russian forces continue to commit men and weapon systems in assaults against fortified urban centers with little success.
“Russia continues to give a high priority to resourcing operations in the broader Donetsk sector, including the Marinka and Avdiivka areas, expending significant resources for minimal gains, the British Military Intelligence added.
With every failed attack, the Russian forces are losing more men and weapon systems than they can afford in the long run. Their inability to achieve success on the ground will come back to haunt them.
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.