The Russian military is going into emergency mode, likely canceling its largest military exercise because of Ukraine war heavy losses and dire situation.
Western intelligence assessments suggest that the Russian Ministry of Defense has canceled the ZAPAD joint strategic exercises as it scrambles to find solutions in Ukraine.
Nyet ZAPAD! Thanks, Ukraine
The Russian military won’t be holding the ZAPAD exercise.
“Russia has highly likely canceled Exercise ZAPAD (‘West’) 23, its planned ‘joint strategic exercise’ (JSE) and major annual event intended to be the culmination of the military’s training year,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
The ZAPAD, meaning the “West,” exercise is a large-scale joint military drill involving tens of thousands of troops from across the Russian armed forces. Historically, its goal has been to prepare the Russian military for a fight with NATO. It used to take place every four years, but starting in 2021, it takes place every two years in western Russia and Belarus.
The latest version of the large-scale exercise was scheduled to take place in September.
In 2021, with exercise ZAPAD 21, the Russian armed forces held the largest military exercise in the history of modern Russia and the largest since the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, these large-scale exercises have been more about the show than the utility. Indeed, there have been instances during these exercises where Russian military ineptitude surfaced for the world to see.
In 2017, as Exercise ZAPAD 17 was unfolding, a Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter accidentally attacked a group of journalists covering the event.
“The Russian military’s under-performance in Ukraine has highlighted how JSEs have had limited training value and have largely been for show. Russia has likely canceled ZAPAD 23 because too few troops and equipment are available,” the British Military Intelligence added.
“There is a realistic possibility that the Russian leadership is also sensitive to domestic criticism liable from running another slickly presented JSE during wartime,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
Indeed, the Russian military can hardly plug gaps created on the frontlines due to the constant daily attrition. So, committing forces to an exercise with little strategic value would, at the least, seem inept to the Russian public.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, on day 461 of the conflict, the Russian forces continued to take significant casualties.
On the last day, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces lost about 500 men killed, wounded, or captured, as well as dozens of heavy weapon systems. Overall, the Russian forces have lost close to 50,000 troops since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive almost three months ago.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 261,310 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 316 attack and transport helicopters, 4,400 tanks, 5,425 artillery pieces, 8,562 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 730 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 7,866 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 499 anti-aircraft batteries, 4,383 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 809 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,415 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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