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Putin Is on the Counterattack in Ukraine But Is Losing Soldiers and Tanks Fast

Russian TOS-1A in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Over the last few days, the Russian forces have launched an intense series of small-scale counterattacks in the Donbas. 

Although the initial assessment was that the Kremlin was trying to throw off the Ukrainian counteroffensive and prevent it from gaining any momentum, the Russian military might actually be trying to create an operational breakthrough for itself. 

The Ukrainian forces are putting up a skillful defense, inflicting extremely heavy casualties on the Russian military. 

Russian Counterattacks

The Russian military is using mechanized assault groups with the support of attack helicopters and artillery fire to break the Ukrainian defenses around Avdiivka. 

The Russian counterattacks came in simultaneously and focused on three directions: northwest, west, and south. The initial evident objective was to distract and put maximum pressure on the Ukrainian defenders. 

However, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Russian localized offensives in the direction of Avdiivka might not be just an attempt to distract the Ukrainian military and lessen the pressure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive to the north toward Bakhmut and to the south in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. 

“ISW is revising its assessment that Russian attacks around Avdiivka are local efforts intended solely to fix Ukrainian forces but is not prepared to assess the exact objectives and likely outcome of Russian efforts in the Avdiivka direction at this time,” the D.C.-based think tank assessed in its latest operational estimate of the war.

The ISW has been an authoritative voice throughout the war, providing daily, sound analysis of the tactical, operational, and strategic developments. 

Moscow’s resumed offensive operations have come at a great cost for its forces on the ground. 

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

Meanwhile, on day 597 of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation,” the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces continue to take extremely heavy losses on the ground. 

The extremely heavy casualties continue for the Russian forces. Over the past 72 hours, the Kremlin lost approximately 2,850 men, 184 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 102 main battle tanks, 97 artillery pieces and multiple launch rocket systems, and 78 tactical and support vehicles. 

For the first time in a long while, the Russian forces lost over 1,000 men killed, wounded, or captured in a single day. The Kremlin’s recent counterattacks in the Donbas have come at an extremely heavy cost and showcase that the Russian military is still struggling on the offensive. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 285,920 Russian troops, destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 316 attack and transport helicopters, 4,931 tanks, 6,807 artillery pieces, 9,313 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 811 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters, 9,203 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 546 anti-aircraft batteries, 5,264 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 966 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,531 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.

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.