The fighting in Ukraine continues with no respite.
Despite suffering extremely heavy losses, Russian forces continue to attack in the Donbas, hoping to break the momentum of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
Often spearheading the Russian assaults are “Shtorm-Z” assault units.
Russia’s Shtorm-Z Assault Units: What They Are
Shtorm-Z units are pushing especially hard to break Kyiv’s defenses around the town of Adviidka.
“These company-sized groups were likely first fielded in 2022. There is a realistic possibility that Russia originally envisioned them as relatively elite organizations which could seize the tactical initiative,” British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war. “However, since at least spring 2023, Shtorm-Z have effectively become penal battalions, manned with convicts and regular troops on disciplinary charges,”.
These units are the second-class citizens of the Russian military. They are the last to receive gear, fire support, resupply, and medical attention. They often spearhead Russian attacks.
“Russian troops have often conducted an effective defense. However, the existence of Shtorm-Z highlights the extreme difficulty Russia has in generating combat infantry capable of conducting effective offensive operations,” British Military Intelligence stated.
Despite intense force generation measures, the Russian military generally lacks sufficient forces to maintain offensive and defensive capabilities on the ground. Moscow is struggling to recruit and train enough men to fight in Ukraine. As the war drags on, the Russian Ministry of Defense will have to come up with more innovative ways to produce men for the meat grinder that this conflict has become. Russian forces have lost around 300,000 men in the war so far.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military continues to inflict heavy losses on the invading Russian forces.
On day 608 of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation,” Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces once again lost more than 800 men killed, wounded, or captured, as well as dozens of heavy weapons systems.
In the past couple of weeks, Russian forces have lost close to 11,000 men and more than 1,200 heavy weapon systems, including armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, artillery pieces and multiple launch rocket systems, tactical and support vehicles, and main battle tanks.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 295,510 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 324 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 324 attack and transport helicopters; 5,105 tanks; 7,081 artillery pieces; 9,669 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 828 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters; 9,447 vehicles and fuel tanks; 552 anti-aircraft batteries; 5,363 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 1,006 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 1,537 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.