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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Ukraine Is ‘Trying to Achieve an Operational Breakthrough’ Against Putin

Russia invaded Ukraine 17 months ago, but the fighting on the ground continues with no respite. Through a large-scale counteroffensive in the Donbas and southern Ukraine, Kyiv is trying to achieve an operational breakthrough.

T-80 Tank Destroyed in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russia invaded Ukraine 17 months ago, but the fighting on the ground continues with no respite. Through a large-scale counteroffensive in the Donbas and southern Ukraine, Kyiv is trying to achieve an operational breakthrough.

Moscow, on the side, is trying to stall or stop the counteroffensive with all means possible, including a costly diversion.

Diversionary Attack or Russian Deception? 

The Ukrainian Military Intelligence assessed earlier in July that the Russian military has amassed an invasion force of around 100,000 men in the east and is threatening to attack in the direction of the Svatove-Kreminna line of contact.

There has been an uptick in artillery fire and small-scale attacks in the area, but the Russian forces have only made marginal gains.

However, plagued by long-term force generation issues, the Russian military could just be feigning an attack in the east to deceive the Ukrainians and force them to shift priorities in the midst of their large-scale counteroffensive.

Whether a full-scale attack takes place remains to be seen, but the Russian military has already increased its pressure in the area in an attempt to draw Ukrainian forces and resources from the Donbas and southern Ukraine.

“Russia has likely only achieved marginal gains, but its renewed activity in the north highlights its importance to the Kremlin, when it is concurrently facing significant pressure in the southern Zaporizhzhia sector,” the British Military Intelligence assessed over the weekend.

The Kremlin understands that it can hardly reverse the course of the conflict and is likely trying to cling to what it has and aims to maintain control of the occupied territories in eastern and southern Ukraine and, of course, the Crimean Peninsula.

“Russia’s Western Group of Forces is likely trying to advance back to the Oskil River in order to create a buffer zone around Luhansk Oblast, the possession of which Russia almost certainly considers one of its fundamental objectives of the war,” the British Military Intelligence added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin can hardly sustain more defeats on the ground. Potential losses in Crimea or the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts—all of which have been under Russian control since 2014—are likely to further endanger Putin’s hold in his country.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine 

Meanwhile, on day 517 of the war, the Russian forces continued to lose an average of about 400 men killed or wounded each day (the average since the Ukrainian counteroffensive started is closer to 600 casualties a day). 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Sunday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 242,620 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 310 attack and transport helicopters, 4,162 tanks, 4,675 artillery pieces, 8,118 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 693 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 7,182 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 452 anti-aircraft batteries, 3,963 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 698 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,307 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.

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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.

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