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5,000 Dead: Ukraine’s Big Counteroffensive Is Making Putin Pay a Big Price

M777 like in Ukraine. Image: Creative Commons.
U.S. Soldiers assigned to Attack Battery, 2-12th Field Artillery Battalion, Task Force Rock, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducts registration and calibration for the M777 A2 Howitzer weapon system in Syria on Sept. 30, 2021. These exercises enable gun sections to deliver timely and accurate fires in support of TF Rock and their fight to defeat Daesh in designated areas of Syria. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Isaiah Scott). These are similar to the M777 pieces serving in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian counteroffensive proceeds. Kyiv is attacking in several different axes of advance in the Donbas and southern Ukraine

Moscow is fighting back, and the situation on the ground is fluid and tense. 

The Ukrainian Counteroffensive 

Thus far, the Ukrainian counteroffensive has produced mixed results. In some areas, the Ukrainian forces have managed to penetrate the first line of Russian defenses and are making good progress. But in others, the Russian resistance is much stiffer, and Ukrainian progress is slower. 

For almost a year, the Russian military has been working on its fortifications. So, it’s expected that the Ukrainian military would face challenges and fierce resistance. Indeed, in a lot of places, there are up to four lines of mutually supporting lines of defense.

The Russian forces are fighting back, but their quality isn’t uniform. At some point, some point in the Russian defenses will crack. That moment will be key, and the Ukrainian military will try to take advantage of it and pour in forces. 

“Russian performance has been mixed: some units are likely conducting credible manoeuvre defence operations while others have pulled back in some disorder, amid increased reports of Russian casualties as they withdraw through their own minefields,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

Surprisingly, the Russian Aerospace Forces has been very active in the fighting on the ground.  

“The Russian Airforce has been unusually active over southern Ukraine, where the airspace is more permissive for Russia than in other parts of the country. However, it remains unclear whether tactical airstrikes have been effective,” the British Military Intelligence added.

The Russian military has poor terminal guidance capabilities, which means that ground troops can’t expect reliable and timely close air support.

Throughout the conflict, the Russian air force hasn’t played an important role in the war. Indeed, it has been largely absent from the key moments of the war. Ukrainian air defenses have been very effective and have prevented Russian aircraft from maximizing their potential.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

The Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to be costly for the Russian forces on the ground. On day 471 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military, Wagner Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces lost more than 800 men killed, wounded, or captured. Since the start of the counteroffensive, the Kremlin has lost more than 5,000 troops.  

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 214,660 Russian troops, destroyed 314 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 299 attack and transport helicopters, 3,909 tanks, 3,717 artillery pieces, 7,607 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 600 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 6,428 vehicles and fuel tanks, 362 anti-aircraft batteries, 3,263 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 507 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,176 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

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 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.