The heavy fighting in southern Ukraine continues as the Ukrainian forces are pushing hard for an operational breakthrough.
In the past few days, the Ukrainian forces have made good progress, but the situation is still fluid.
Meanwhile, the Russian military continues to attack Ukraine with missiles and kamikaze drones, inflicting heavy casualties on the civilian population.
The Status of the Ukrainian Counteroffensive
Ukrainian forces continue to fight hard in southern Ukraine, especially in the western part of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Kyiv is concentrating forces in the sector to achieve an operational breakthrough. On the other side, Moscow is moving in reinforcements from other parts of the battlefield to ensure that the Ukrainians don’t manage an operational breakthrough.
The heaviest of fighting is taking place near Robotyne, which the Ukrainians captured last week. The Ukrainian military leadership is likely looking to liberate Orikhiv and from there widen the contact line and shoot straight for Melitopol.
Kyiv is using a combination of infantry and mechanized brigades to breach the Russian defenses, while Moscow continues to rely on counterattacks and extensive minefields to hold the line. The further the Ukrainians penetrate the Russian fortifications, the easier it becomes to advance.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, on day 561 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces continued to take significant casualties.
For a third straight day, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces in the Donbas took more than 600 casualties. The Ukrainian progress in the Western Zaporizhzhia Oblast is forcing the Russian forces to throw in more forces into the fray and the produces more casualties.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 266,900 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 316 attack and transport helicopters, 4,506 tanks, 5,722 artillery pieces, 8,703 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 753 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 8,217 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 506 anti-aircraft batteries, 4,541 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 859 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,455 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The Ukrainian military is also taking losses, but Kyiv is making a good job of concealing the exact number of its casualties. But besides military losses, Ukraine is also suffering civilian casualties.
A Russian S-300 missile attack against a marketplace in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday killed and wounded dozens of innocent people.
Although the Ukrainian air defenses have been significantly strengthened by Western military aid, the Russian military continues to be able to hit Ukrainian urban centers and kill innocent people. One reason for that is the swarms of kamikaze drones the Russian forces fire against Ukraine that confuse and distract the limited Ukrainian air defense capabilities.
With winter coming soon, the Russian missile and kamikaze drone attacks will resume in force. Ukraine will need adequate air defense systems and munitions to defend its people.
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.