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The War in Ukraine Could Come Down to Who ‘Breaches the Defenses’ First

In eastern Ukraine, the Russian forces continue to attack with intensity in an attempt to distract the Ukrainian forces and further stall Kyiv’s counteroffensive.

Russian TOS-1 Rocket Artillery. Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot.

The Ukrainian military might be pushing hard in southern Ukraine and the Donbas as part of its large-scale counteroffensive, but that isn’t their only concern.

In eastern Ukraine, the Russian forces continue to attack with intensity in an attempt to distract the Ukrainian forces and further stall Kyiv’s counteroffensive.

Now, a race between the two militaries is underway. Whoever breaches the other’s defenses first will have the upper hand.

Ukraine: Fighting A war with Limited Resources

The war in Ukraine is one of limited resources for both sides. Men, weapon systems, and resources are, to different degrees, limited. Commanders on either side conduct operations with that key consideration in mind.

For example, Ukraine doesn’t have enough heavy mechanized brigades with Western equipment to attack all along the 750-mile contact line. So, Kyiv chose the sectors of the battlefield that better connected to its strategic objectives for the current phase of the war. In the rest of the contact line, the Ukrainian military has committed forces better prepared for defensive operations.

Similarly, the Russian military doesn’t have the forces to launch a large-scale offensive in southern Ukraine or the Donbas. Indeed, Moscow is even having trouble defending in these two sectors. Due to the lack of forces, the Russian high command has to keep relocating units from parts of the contact line that are quieter to reinforce the threatened sectors.

A Shrewd Move

With the context of limited resources, the Kremlin’s offensive in the east is a shrewd move.

The Russian military leadership knows that it can’t counterattack in scale against the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Indeed, Moscow’s success in the ongoing fighting in southern Ukraine and the Donbas is largely because the Russian forces are defending behind extensive fortifications. They don’t have the capability for an operational-level offensive in that sector. But the situation in eastern Ukraine is a different story.

The Russian military leadership knows that it can launch limited attacks in eastern Ukraine, though with no real hopes of an operational breakthrough. But these attacks might be enough to divert Ukrainian forces from elsewhere and spoil the counteroffensive.

Russian Casualties

On day 463 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces continue to take significant casualties.

Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces in the Donbas took almost 600 killed, wounded, or captured casualties as well as over 100 heavy weapon systems and support vehicles. Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 262,410 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 316 attack and transport helicopters, 4,423 tanks, 5,476 artillery pieces, 8,596 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 733 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 7,953 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 500 anti-aircraft batteries, 4,395 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 825 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,419 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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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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