The Russian campaign in Ukraine isn’t going well. That is no secret to anyone who has been even vaguely following the 19-month conflict.
In a rare move to become more involved in his invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently visited the headquarters responsible for a “special military operation” in the neighboring country.
Putin Visits the Front
Over the weekend, Putin visited the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, about 90 miles from the frontlines in Ukraine.
The Southern Military District hosts the staff that is responsible for running the “special military operation” in Ukraine. The Wagner Group briefly captured the headquarters in June when it launched its surprise mutiny.
In Rostov-on-Don, the Russian leader held a meeting with some of his most senior military officers, including Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov, who is also running the “special military operation” in Ukraine; Putin appointed him in that position in January.
Through his visit, “Putin highly likely wishes to project his authority and to portray the senior military command as functioning as usual,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate of the war.
Despite the lack of serious progress in the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the war isn’t going well for the Russian military. Extremely high casualties (between 260,000 and 300,000), drone and missile attacks within Russia, heavy sanctions, and a collapsing national currency combine to paint a bad picture for Putin.
On the military level, the Russian military has proven to be unable to achieve an operational breakthrough anywhere on the battlefield. Any large-scale offensive Moscow launched failed spectacularly at the cost of tens of thousands of dead and maimed Russian troops. So, Putin and his commanders are likely going for a protracted war of attrition, betting that Western appetite to support Ukraine will wear off soon.
Putin Can’t Hide This: Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Russian forces, meanwhile, continue to take casualties on the ground. On day 547 of the Kremlin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces lost a little about 350 men killed, wounded, or captured.
Compared to other days in the war, this number is extremely low. Indeed, it is the lowest number of daily casualties in a good while. The Ukrainian Independence Day might be the explanation behind the low number of casualties. The next few days will show whether these low casualties were temporary or not.
This summer alone, the Russian forces have lost upwards of 45,000 men killed, wounded, or captured.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 259,160 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 316 attack and transport helicopters, 4,375 tanks, 5,333 artillery pieces, 8,511 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 723 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 7,773 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 494 anti-aircraft batteries, 4,344 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 801 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,406 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
About the Author
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
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