The Russian military is stalling the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Donbas and southern Ukraine but at a terrible cost in casualties.
Russian units in the frontlines have lost approximately 20,000 men over the past four weeks and hundreds of weapon systems.
Losses are forcing the Russian military to draw units from across Russia, weakening the Kremlin’s overall national security posture.
Units in High Demand
For 32 days, the Ukrainians have been attacking and probing the extensive Russian defensive lines in search of weak spots that would pave the way for a much-needed operational breakthrough.
Using extensive defensive lines with mutually supported fortifications, anti-tank ditches, trenches, and miles upon miles of minefields, the Russian forces have been stalling the Ukrainian attacks. Although Kyiv’s forces have made progress in several sectors, they haven’t achieved advances comparable to those of the past fall when they liberated hundreds of square miles of territory in the east and south in just a few days.
But to be as effective as it has been so far, the Russian military has resorted to cannibalizing its national security posture to feed the defense against the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Russian Ministry of Defense has relocated units from across the country to the frontlines in Ukraine, weakening Russia’s borders.
For example, the 58th Combined Arms Army defending the Zaporizhzhia Oblast is normally tasked with protecting Russia’s Caucasus region. In addition, the 5th Combined Arms Army, which includes elite naval infantry units, that is entrenched around Velyka Novosilka in the Donetsk Oblast, is normally stationed in Russia’s eastern borders more than 4,300 miles away as a counter to Chinese power in the region. Finally, the Russian elite VDV airborne regiments fighting around the ruined town of Bakhmut are nominally stationed in Western Russia on standby as a rapid reaction force in the event of tensions with NATO.
“The way Russia is accepting risks across Eurasia highlights how the war has dislocated Russia’s established national strategy,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
What is worst for the Kremlin is that despite relocating all these forces from across Russia to the frontlines in Ukraine, thus undermining the country’s defenses, it might not be enough to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Then, Moscow will have lost its military and defenses.
Russian Casualties In Ukraine
On the 498th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces continue to take significant casualties on the frontlines.
Destroyed equipment includes: 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 309 attack and transport helicopters, 4,068 tanks, 4,310 artillery pieces, 7,732 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 657 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 6,888 vehicles and fuel tanks, 404 anti-aircraft batteries, 3,635 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 605 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,264 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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.