There is heavy fighting on the ground in Ukraine, and Russian forces are putting up a skillful defense. But there are some signs that things are getting desperate on the Russian side.
Since the Ukrainian counteroffensive began in early June, Russian units in some places on the battlefield have been using a move straight out of a terrorist group’s playbook to stop the advancing Ukrainians.
Chechens, IEDs, and the Islamic State
Russian forces have been using a combination of minefields, artillery, drones, attack aircraft, anti-tank obstacles, strong points, and trenches to stall the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Although the extensive Russian defensive lines have been quite effective, Ukrainian forces are making slow but steady progress.
To stop them, Russian forces have turned to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs, much like the Islamic State did in Iraq and Syria.
“Most Russian VBIED cases have been reported around Marinka, near Donetsk city, and started days after Chechen units reinforced the area: there is a realistic possibility that Chechen forces are pioneering the tactic,” British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
Chechen forces have experience with IEDs from their war against the Russian military in the 1990s.
“Most of Russia’s VBIEDs have almost certainly detonated before they reached their target through a combination of anti-tank mines and direct fire, bringing into question the viability of the capability,” the British Military Intelligence added.
But there are some negative effects on the Ukrainian troops, even if a Russian VBIED doesn’t reach their position. An explosion of such magnitude (several tons of TNT) close to a Ukrainian position will certainly cause some injuries.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, on the ground, the carnage continues with heavy casualties for both sides.
On the 506th day of the conflict, the Russian forces continue to lose a steady number of men every day. For the past few days, Russian casualties have stabilized at around 500 killed or wounded every day.
Every casualty means that the Russian military will be less effective in future offensive operations. But the Kremlin’s strategy looks to be essentially a defensive one and concentrated mainly in the areas already under Russian occupation — parts of southern Ukraine, the Donbas, and the Crimean Peninsula.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 236,040 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 310 attack and transport helicopters; 4,092 tanks; 4,425 artillery pieces; 7,999 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 678 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 18 boats and cutters; 6,995 vehicles and fuel tanks; 421 anti-aircraft batteries; 3,752 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 652 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. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.