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265,000 Dead or Wounded: Russia’s War in Ukraine Comes Down to ‘In-Depth Fortifications’

Three months ago, Ukraine’s military launched an ambitious, large-scale counteroffensive. They have reached a critical milestone.

Soldiers from 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade conducted Patriot Missile live fire training, November 5, at McGregor Range Complex on Fort Bliss. The live fire exercise was conducted jointly with Air Defense counterparts from the Japanese Self-Defense Force. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Ian Vega-Cerezo)

Ukraine War Update: Three months ago, Ukraine’s military launched an ambitious, large-scale counteroffensive.

They focused on several sectors of the contact line, especially in Southern Ukraine and the Donbas region. 

Although Ukrainian forces have made progress, stiff Russian resistance and extensive, in-depth fortifications have prevented Kyiv from achieving the operational breakthrough they seek. 

The Situation on the Ground 

The Ukrainian military continues to attack along the Orikhiv axis of advance, in the western part of Southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Ukrainian forces there have reached the main Russian defensive line. Now they are trying to breach it and divide Russian forces in Ukraine into two parts.

But the Russian forces are putting up a determined defense and are mounting a diversionary counterattack of their own in the eastern part of the country. 

“Russian forces, primarily composed of the 58 Combined Arms Army and Russian Airborne Forces elements, seek to halt the Ukrainian counteroffensive whilst maintaining their own offensive on the northern axis around Kupiansk,” British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate of the war.

Russian forces are likely seeking to distract Ukraine from its counteroffensive, thereby forcing it to divide its forces between Orikhiv and Kupiansk,” British Military Intelligence added.

However, as the Russian forces understand well, it is easier to defend than to attack, and for the time being, the Ukrainian military is doing a good job holding the front in the east. The forested terrain in that sector favors the defender. Thus, the Ukrainian military leadership can run the risk of committing fewer resources to the area while focusing its attention on the unfolding counteroffensive.

“Given that Russia has made modest gains near Kupiansk since the Ukrainian counteroffensive began in June, they are highly likely seeking to capitalize on these by continuing to resource the axis,” British Military Intelligence stated.

There is risk to both sides’ approaches. By dividing its limited forces and resources, the Russian military leadership risks a Ukrainian operational breakthrough somewhere on the front. It is a very fine balance for both sides. Hard fighting, effective generalship, and luck will determine the result. 

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

On day 558 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces continued to take significant casualties. 

Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces in the Donbas lost a little over 450 killed, wounded, or captured casualties, as well as over 120 heavy weapon systems and support vehicles. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 265,120 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 316 attack and transport helicopters; 4,480 tanks; 5,611 artillery pieces; 8,663 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 741 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS); 18 boats and cutters; 8,149 vehicles and fuel tanks; 503 anti-aircraft batteries; 4,481 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 847 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 1,447 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 InsiderSandboxx, 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.