The Ukrainian military continues to attack along several axes of advance in the south and the Donbas as part of its large-scale counteroffensive.
Kyiv has made the most progress around the city of Orikiv, in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, in southern Ukraine.
In an attempt to stop the Ukrainian advance, the Russian military is sending elite units from other parts of the battlefield.
VDV Paratroopers Putting Out Fires in Ukraine
The Russian military is sending VDV paratroopers to Zaporizhzhia in a desperate attempt to reinforce the frontline and prevent a Ukrainian operational breakthrough.
“Russia has likely redeployed airborne forces’ (VDV) units from the Kherson region to the heavily contested Orikiv sector in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The 58th Combined Arms Army (58 CAA) has been in combat facing Ukrainian assaults since 4 June 2023,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
The Russian Ministry of Defense sacked Major General Ivan Popov, the commanding general of the 58th Combined Arms Army, in early July because he voiced his qualms about the situation on the frontlines. Specifically, Popov insisted that frontline units, such as the 70th and 71st Motor Rifle Regiments, needed to be relieved by fresh formations because they had been fighting for months with no respite.
The Kremlin apparently disagreed and dismissed an able commander for daring to voice the truth about the precarious situation in many Russian units.
“There is a realistic possibility that the arrival of VDV will finally allow elements of these regiments to be pulled out for rest and recovery,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
The Russian military’s VDV airborne forces are an elite organization and are considered by Moscow to be a strategic reserve in the event of a war with NATO. Although paratroopers, VDV units pack some heavy weaponry, including main battle tanks, artillery, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers. Essentially, VDV is an independent army that can largely fight alone without the direct support of other components of the Russian armed forces.
“However, the redeployment will likely leave Russia’s defences near the east bank of the Dnipro River weaker, where they are increasingly harassed by Ukrainian amphibious raids,” the British Military Intelligence added.
The Ukrainian military has been trying to weaken other sectors of the battlefield by concentrating its firepower in one and forcing the Russians to relocate forces. The Kremlin’s serious force generation issues mean that Russian commanders have to make tough choices as to where they commit their reserves.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, on day 536 of the Russian invasion, the Russian military is starting to lose more men every day.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 253,290 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 313 attack and transport helicopters, 4,295 tanks, 5,053 artillery pieces, 8,324 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 713 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 7,523 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 472 anti-aircraft batteries, 4,201 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 759 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,378 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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
From the Vault