More than four months ago, the Ukrainian military launched its large-scale counteroffensive in southern Ukraine and the Donbas.
The goal was to pierce through the extensive Russian defenses and reach Melitopol on the coast of the Sea of Azov, thus splitting the Russian forces in Ukraine into two groups and severing the Kremlin’s land bridge to Crimea.
Due to a number of reasons, mainly the extremely dense Russian fortifications, the Ukrainian forces have failed to achieve an operational breakthrough. With winter just around the corner, time is running out.
Winter is Coming
The Ukrainian forces have been once more bogged down between the Russian lines of defense in southern Ukraine, and the tactical breach that they achieved a few days ago has lost its momentum.
What is worse for Kyiv is that there isn’t much fighting weather left. The two combatants have up to two months (six to eight weeks) before the weather conditions become bad enough to affect large-scale military operations. The Russians understand this and are playing for time, knowing that they can do little on the offensive but that they can at least prevent the Ukrainians from advancing.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The situation on the ground continues to be costly for the Russian forces. On the 589th day of the Kremlin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces continue to take significant casualties.
Since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive more than four months ago, the Russian Ministry of Defense has had to absorb a huge number of losses.
Over the past 24 hours, the Russian forces lost almost 600 men killed, wounded, and captured, as well as almost 100 heavy weapon systems and vehicles. Moscow continues to lose a very large number of artillery pieces every day. Indeed, in the last three days alone, the Russian forces have lost more than 115 artillery guns and multiple launch rocket systems.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 280,470 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 316 attack and transport helicopters, 4,745 tanks, 6,612 artillery pieces, 9,026 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 802 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters, 8,962 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 540 anti-aircraft batteries, 5,121 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 946 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.
Interestingly, Western intelligence assessments put the number of Russian casualties at more than 300,000 killed, wounded, and captured, but estimate that the material casualties are about half of what the Ukrainians are claiming. Being the party engaged in the fighting, Kyiv has better visibility on what is going on the ground, but it also might be tempted to occasionally “round” the numbers for propaganda purposes.
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.
From the Vault