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235,000 Dead and Wouned: Putin’s War in Ukraine Is a Disaster

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine isn’t going well. 

T-72 tanks from Poland. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine isn’t going well. 

For almost 18 months, the Russian forces have been trying to achieve something on the ground, but they have failed spectacularly while incurring more than 200,000 casualties in the process. 

In response to the failures in Ukraine, the Kremlin has had to resort to extreme measures to make for its losses in men.

Stealth Mobilizations for Ukraine War

In September, Putin was forced to call up a good chunk of his reserves (approximately 300,000) to plug the holes created by the fierce fighting on the ground. 

With the addition of the now mutinous Wagner Group private military company, which was allowed to recruit tens of thousands of prisoners to fight in Ukraine, the Kremlin managed to generate enough men to sustain a large-scale offensive in the Donbas and also defend against the initial waves of the Ukrainian counteroffensive

But these sources of manpower have either dried up (in the case of Wagner Group) or are drying up quickly (in the case of the reservists). Looking to avoid another call-up of the reserves, Putin is resorting to stealth mobilizations. For example, Moscow’s municipal authorities “are highly likely threatening” construction firms with voiding their contracts if they fail to keep up with their quotas of “volunteers” to fight in Ukraine, according to the British Military Intelligence. 

These quotas can reach up to 30 “volunteers” and are likely primarily targeting Russian ethnic minorities from the vast country’s pooper regions like Dagestan and the central Asian states. 

But by relying on unmotivated men who are likely tricked or forced to “volunteer,” the Russian military isn’t doing any favors to itself. The quality of the force isn’t increasing, and such recruits likely serve as cannon fodder or in support roles. 

“This measure is highly likely at least tacitly endorsed by Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin. It continues his track record of trying to minimise the impact of the conflict on better-off Muscovites, while still being seen to support the war effort,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war. 

Putin and the Kremlin are trying to insulate ordinary Russians from the war and thus minimize the backlash from the many mistakes. 

Russian Casualties 

Meanwhile, the Russian military continues to bleed men on the ground. On day 504 of the conflict, the Russian forces lost more than 500 men killed, wounded, or captured, widening the force generation woes of the Kremlin.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 235,020 Russian troops.

Destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 310 attack and transport helicopters, 4,089 tanks, 4,385 artillery pieces, 7,983 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 672 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 6,966 vehicles and fuel tanks, 414 anti-aircraft batteries, 3,693 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 640 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,271 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 InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

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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.