The Russian military is on the offensive once again in Ukraine. But the results haven’t been what the Kremlin expected.
In about a week, the Russian forces suffered extremely heavy losses in their attempt to capture the town of Avdiivka in the Donbas.
But despite the Russian failure to capture the town, the Kremlin has shown that it can still attack despite the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Coordinated Offensive in Ukraine
“Russia has highly likely begun a coordinated offensive across multiple axes in the east of Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
“Russian forces in Donetsk are conducting a combined arms offensive on the heavily defended town of Avdiivka, which has been on the front line since 2014. The town is a major obstacle in preventing Russian forces from their wider objective of taking control of Donetsk Oblast, the British Military Intelligence added.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine began in 2014 with the surprise attack and annexation of Crimea. This large-scale phase of the war is just the continuation of those hostilities.
“Russia’s attack is likely being carried out with multiple armoured battalions, which are attempting to envelop the town. It is likely to be the most significant offensive operation undertaken by Russia since at least January 2023,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
Despite the commitment of forces, the Ukrainians are holding their own for the time being.
“Entrenched Ukrainian forces have so far likely held back the Russian advance, with the latter sustaining heavy equipment and personnel losses. Slow progress and high casualties have likely triggered a change in messaging from Russia, from an offensive to ‘active-defense,’ as successfully clearing Avdiivka looks increasingly unlikely in the short term.
The Russian Aerospace Forces have made a comeback as well. Russian attack helicopters have been supporting Moscow’s forces on the ground with guided and unguided missiles. There is a big risk in using fixed- or rotary-winged aircraft that close to the frontlines because of the prevalence of anti-aircraft fire.
Both sides have had difficulty operating their air forces in support of ground forces and are instead using them for long-range strikes.
Meanwhile, on the ground, the Kremlin continues to suffer extremely heavy losses. On day 601 of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces lost about 800 men killed, wounded, or captured in the fighting, as well as scores of heavy weapon systems.
Over the last week, the Russian forces lost over 6,300 men, 276 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 229 artillery pieces and multiple launch rocket systems, 168 tactical and support vehicles, and 150 main battle tanks.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 289,430 Russian troops, destroyed 323 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 317 attack and transport helicopters, 4,979 tanks, 6,936 artillery pieces, 9,405 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 814 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters, 9,293 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 547 anti-aircraft batteries, 5,291 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 982 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,533 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.