But after months of heavy fighting, the Russian forces achieved very little.
Even after throwing tens of thousands of troops against the town of Bakhmut, Russia has yet to capture it.
In addition to losing precious operational time, the Russian forces suffered extremely heavy casualties in their offensive, forcing Moscow to take its foot off the gas in April.
Indeed, last month broke an upward trend in casualties.
An Upward Trend in Casualties Ends
For five straight months, the Russian casualty figures were on an upward trend.
In November, the Russian forces lost approximately 16,400 troops killed or wounded.
In December, the Russian forces lost about 100 troops more, for a total of 16,500 men killed or wounded. But starting in 2023, the Russian losses skyrocketed with successive records every month.
In January, the Kremlin lost approximately 20,200 med killed or wounded. The next month, the Russian forces lost more than 21,500 troops killed or wounded. And then, in March, the Russian forces lost about 24,100 men for a wartime high.
The steady increase over the months was the result of the intense fighting on the ground, especially around Bakhmut in the Donbas. The skyrocketing rise from January to March was the outcome of the large-scale Russian offensive, which ultimately failed. However, in April, the upward trend ended.
From April 1 to April 30, the Russian military, Wanger Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces lost approximately 16,500 troops killed or wounded. But the Russian forces suffered significant losses in weapon systems as well.
More specifically, the Russian forces lost 314 vehicles and fuel tanks, 231 artillery pieces, 227 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 208 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 83 tanks, 61 special equipment, 21 ballistic and cruise missiles, 17 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS, 16 air defense systems, three attack or transport helicopters, and two fighter or attack jets.
Over time, these heavy losses in weapon systems and support vehicles add up.
The Russian forces have suffered so much attrition in weapon systems that the Kremlin is forced to deploy obsolete tanks, such as the T-55/54 and T-64, and support vehicles to the frontlines.
These weapon systems are easy prey for the Ukrainian forces, which are using modern anti-tank weapons provided by the West.
Total Russian Military Casualties
The total number of Russian casualties over the approximately 15 months of combat is jaw-dropping.
Since February 24, 2022, the Russian military, Wagner Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces have lost more than 200,000 men killed or wounded, according to the latest Ukrainian estimates.
Russian casualties are equally heavy in weapon systems. Since the start of the war, the Russian forces have lost more than 25,000 heavy weapon systems, such as tanks, aircraft, artillery pieces, infantry fighting vehicles, drones, and air defense weapons.
As the war drags on, the Russian military has an increasingly difficult job outfitting its forces with modern weapon systems.
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.