The Ukrainian military keeps trying to turn a tactical breach in southern Ukraine into an operational breakthrough.
However, the Russian military has been launching constant small-scale counterattacks to throw the Ukrainians off balance and quickly recapture any lost territory.
The Russian military’s elastic defense has been paying off, and the Ukrainian forces are having serious difficulty making significant progress in the sector.
Moscow’s skillful defense has benefitted from the ability to rotate units from the frontlines.
The Russian military has flooded the Orikhiv sector with reinforcements and is now able to rotate units in and out of the frontlines.
“Russian forces appear to have recently conducted a regimental rotation in the Orikhiv area, demonstrating an ability to sustain their defenses in this critical sector of the frontline,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest operational update.
Up until this point, the Russian military had had extreme difficulty in rotating units. As a result, units would spend months on the frontlines with concomitant manpower and morale issues. The fact that the Kremlin now has the ability to rotate some of its units means that its force generation is paying off and that it has at least some reserves to play around with.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces continue to take serious casualties on the ground. On day 591 of the Kremlin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the Russian forces lost over 600 troops killed, wounded, or captured.
In addition to losing more than 600 men, the Russian forces lost a large number of heavy weapon systems and support vehicles. More specifically, over the past 24 hours, the Russians lost 23 main battle tanks, 20 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, 24 artillery guns and multiple launch rockets, 27 tactical unmanned aerial systems, and more than 58 vehicles and support trucks.
That is the second day in a row in which the Russian forces lost more than 600 men and a sharp departure from the low casualty days of previous weeks. The higher casualties are likely the result of Russian small-scale counterattacks in southern Ukraine. In an attempt to plug the gap created by the advances of the Ukrainian forces in the Orikhiv sector in the western part of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the Russian forces have been launching counterattacks. They have been largely successful in containing the Ukrainian breach around the village of Verbove.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 281,700 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 316 attack and transport helicopters, 4,800 tanks, 6,688 artillery pieces, 9,102 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 808 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters, 9.073 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 541 anti-aircraft batteries, 5,185 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 956 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,530 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.