The war in Ukraine continues to unfold on the ground. After a failure to penetrate the extensive Russian defenses in southern Ukraine and the Donbas, the Ukrainian military is trying to fuel some momentum in its counteroffensive.
On the other end, the Russians drew courage from their skillful defense and decided to launch a series of localized counterattacks in the direction of Avdiivka in the Donbas. They didn’t go far. In the span of around two weeks, the Russian forces lost almost 15,000 men and hundreds of heavy weapon systems.
As the winter is about to enter into the fray, the situation on the ground remains largely the same.
The Situation on the Ground
Seeing that the Russian defenses along the Zaporizhzhia Oblast and the Donbas are too dense to be penetrated through sheer force, the Ukrainians have shifted their weight in the Kherson Oblast to the west.
Kyiv is taking advantage of several small beachheads it has established on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. The Russian military leadership is faced with a conundrum: reinforcing Kherson would mean fewer resources for Zaporizhzhia and the Donbas. But, allowing the Ukrainians to establish a firm hold in Kherson could precipitate the collapse of the whole of the southern front. With limited resources and men to go around, the Russian military leadership has some tough choices ahead.
On the other end, the Ukrainians desperately need some momentum in their offensive operations. Kyiv parried the Russian attacks in Avdiivka with its characteristic determination. But defense won’t win this war. The Ukrainian military must find a way to break the extensive Russian defenses and achieve an operational breakthrough. Anything short of that plays to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand.
The Kremlin is looking to drag this war out and force the Ukrainians to come to the negotiating table.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine: A Bloodbath for Putin
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military continues to inflict heavy losses on the invading Russian forces.
On day 611 of the Kremlin’s “special military operation,” the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces lost once again more than 500 men killed, wounded, or captured, as well as dozens of heavy weapon systems in the fighting.
To be sure, the rate of Russian casualties fell compared to previous days. But it is still over the conflict’s daily average, and the losses continue to have a detrimental effect on the readiness and morale of the Russian forces.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 297,680 Russian troops, destroyed 324 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 324 attack and transport helicopters, 5,145 tanks, 7,162 artillery pieces, 9,726 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 834 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters, 9,513 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 556 anti-aircraft batteries, 5,390 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 1,011 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,538 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.
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