In addition, the Ukrainian forces opened a separate front further south in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Heavy Fighting on the Ground
For the time being, the Russian forces are holding fast, and Ukrainian progress has been limited. It looks like Kyiv is still probing the Russian frontlines to find the weakest spot so that it can commit more forces there.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive is unfolding at several points on the battlefield. The heaviest fighting is taking place in the flanks of Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, around Marinka, and in western Zaporizhzhia.
The Ukrainian thrust in the south in the western part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast looks to have failed. Although the Ukrainian forces broke through the first Russian line of defense, the Russian military counterattacked and regained ground. In this sector of the front, the Ukrainian forces have committed some of their best units. However, it looks like the extensive Russian defensive lines need more pressure to break.
The goal of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is becoming increasingly clear. To begin with, the Ukrainians are looking to cut the Russian occupation forces in half by driving toward the Sea of Azov. In that way, the Russian garrison in the Crimean Peninsula will be cornered, while the Ukrainians will be able to move their formidable long-range fires within range of more Russian logistical functions. Kyiv has repeatedly stated its intention of liberating Crimea, even though some in the West think that this would push Russian President Vladimir Putin to even more aggressive measures.
Friday has been one of the deadliest days in the war. Over the past 24 hours, the Russian forces lost more than 1,000 men killed, wounded, or captured. In addition to the Russian military, Wagner Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces lost over 115 pieces of heavy equipment, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, tactical drones, artillery pieces, multiple launch rocket systems, and miscellaneous vehicles.
In the past five days alone, the Russian forces have lost more than 4,000 troops, which is almost the equivalent of a full NATO brigade. The defense against the Ukrainian counteroffensive might be going well for Moscow right now, but it remains to be seen for how long the Russian forces can hold.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 213,770 Russian troops, destroyed 314 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 299 attack and transport helicopters, 3,901 tanks, 3,702 artillery pieces, 7,600 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 599 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 6,410 vehicles and fuel tanks, 359 anti-aircraft batteries, 3,247 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 502 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,171 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. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy, Cybersecurity, and Intelligence at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.