What Is Putin Doing in Ukraine Now? For almost three months now, the Ukrainian military has been pushing hard in the Donbas and southern Ukraine as part of a large-scale counteroffensive.
Despite throwing some of its best units equipped with Western weaponry, including Leopard 2 main battle tanks and M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, the Ukrainian forces have failed to breach the extensive Russian defenses.
Nevertheless, the Ukrainian military has been making steady progress, especially in southern Ukraine. To deal with the threat, the Russian military might do something that might look irrational at first glance: launch a large-scale offensive.
A Russian Offensive to the Ukrainian Counteroffensive?
The Ukrainian counteroffensive is pressing hard against the Russian forces in two main sectors.
In Bakhmut, in the Donbas, the Ukrainian forces have been attacking the flanks of the Russian-occupied town.
In the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, in southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian forces have been attacking along several parts of the contact line, making the most significant progress in the direction of Orikhiv.
“As Ukraine continues to gradually gain ground in the south, Russia’s doctrine suggests that it will attempt to regain the initiative by pivoting back to an operational level offensive. Kupiansk-Lyman is one potential area for this,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
The Russian military has already been launching small-scale attacks in eastern Ukraine along the Svatove-Kreminna line and has made some gains.
“There is a realistic possibility Russia will increase the intensity of its offensive efforts on the Kupiansk-Lyman axis in the next two months, probably with the objective of advancing west to the Oskil River and creating a buffer zone around Luhansk Oblast,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
On day 459 of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces continued to suffer significant casualties. Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces took close to 650 killed, wounded, and captured casualties.
Although this number doesn’t come close to the high daily casualties of previous months, when the Russian forces were losing 800, 900, and over 1,000 troops every day, it is still a significant number of losses, especially taken together over the long term. Indeed, since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the Russian forces have lost more than 45,000 men.
Coupled with the Kremlin’s serious force generation woes, these losses are forcing the Russian military leadership to move around units to plug holes on the battlefield.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 260,270 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 316 attack and transport helicopters, 4,390 tanks, 5,379 artillery pieces, 8,539 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 726 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 7,823 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 497 anti-aircraft batteries, 4,367 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 804 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,411 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 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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