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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Has Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Stalled?

Image of similar artillery being used in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Image of similar artillery being used in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces managed to achieve a tactical breach in Southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast. 

After months of fierce fighting, the Ukrainian military pierced through the first line of Russian defenses and reached the key village of Verbove that connects further Russian defenses. Ukraine’s progress offered hopes of an operational breakthrough in the sector that would move the counteroffensive toward accomplishing its objectives. 

However, over the past week, Russian forces have largely stabilized the front through a mix of stubborn defense and small-scale counterattacks. 

A Stabilized Front

The situation and the casualties on the ground suggest that the front in Southern Ukraine has indeed largely stabilized. 

Over the past few days, Ukrainian forces have only managed marginal gains and have failed to widen the tactical breach near Verbove. 

Ukrainian forces marginally advanced in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area amid continued counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast and near Bakhmut,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest operational update on the war.

The Russian military has relocated considerable formations to the sector — including elite VDV paratroopers and Spetsnaz special operations forces — to prevent a Ukrainian breakthrough.

Farther to the north, in the other promising front around Bakhmut, the situation is similar: The Ukrainian counteroffensive is moving slowly due to Russian counterattacks. 

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

Meanwhile, Russian forces continue to take casualties on the ground on day 587 of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces took approximately 360 casualties killed, wounded, and captured. That number is once again way below the average of around 500 losses per day, and this suggests the fighting has stabilized to some degree. Russian forces also continue to lose dozens of heavy weapons systems every day, but they are not suffering the catastrophic losses normally linked to a retreat.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 279,440 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 316 attack and transport helicopters; 4,732 tanks; 6,565 artillery pieces; 9,008 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 801 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters; 8,932 vehicles and fuel tanks; 540 anti-aircraft batteries; 5,080 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 943 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 1,529 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Ukrainian forces are also taking losses, but Kyiv has been very careful to conceal the numbers. Western intelligence estimates put the number of Ukrainian casualties to a few hundred every day at this point. However, in contrast to Russian casualties, the Ukrainians suffer more wounded than killed because they have a better combat aid system. Not every soldier who is wounded can return to the front lines — many lose limbs and are disabled for life. But there is a definite psychological boost in knowing that a combatant is likely to survive even if seriously wounded by enemy fire.  

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.