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Putin Is Now Using His ‘Strategic Reserves’ To Fight in Ukraine

The VDV airborne forces are an elite organization normally considered as the strategic reserve that would fight NATO forces in a war with the West.

Kornet. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Kornet Anti-Tank Missile.

The war in Ukraine continues, and the Russian forces keep losing hundreds of men every day.

According to Western intelligence estimates, the Russian forces have lost up to 300,000 men killed, wounded, or captured in the conflict so far.

Among the casualties are elite troops, including VDV paratroopers, who often act as firefighters, plugging gaps created along the contact line.

The VDV’s Losses

According to a recent intelligence assessment by the British Military Intelligence, one of Russia’s most prestigious VDV units has had to change three commanders because of the heavy casualties and poor performance of the Russian forces.

Since February 24, 2022, the 247th Guards Air Assault Landing Regiment has changed three commanders who have either been killed or resigned their command. The latest casualty is Colonel Vasily Popov, who was likely killed by Ukrainian forces in the Orikhiv sector in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast in southern Ukraine in early September.

“Only weeks before, in August 2023, his predecessor, Colonel Pytor Popov, likely resigned his command. Independent Russian media sources claim he acted in protest over the military’s failure to recover the bodies of Russian casualties,” the British Military Intelligence stated.

It’s not clear if the two men were related due to the same last name.

“In the early weeks of the invasion, then 247th commander Colonel Konstantin Zizevsky was killed near Mykolaiv. The experience of the 247th highlights the extreme attrition and high turnover in Russia’s deployed military, even amongst relatively senior ranks,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its estimate.  

The VDV airborne forces are an elite organization normally considered as the strategic reserve that would fight NATO forces in a war with the West. However, the dire situation of the Russian military in Ukraine has forced the Russian Ministry of Defense to commit elite troops like the VDV to be expendable and costly tasks normally reserved for the infantry.

Russian Casualties 

Meanwhile, the Russian forces continue to take casualties on the ground on day 588 of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine

Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces had about 450 troops killed, wounded, and captured.

The average daily casualty rate for the Russian forces hovers close to 500 men killed, wounded, or captured. When it comes to the extremes in the spectrum, on the high end, the Russian forces have had days where they lost more than 1,200 men, and on the low end, they have had days where they lost less than 300 troops.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 279,890 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.

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.