Today marks 365 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. Tomorrow marks one year of the war. Almost 12 months later, Russian forces continued to attack Ukraine, with most of the fighting occurring in Donbas and the east. Despite Russian pressure, the Ukrainian defenses hold. And soon, Ukraine will be able to launch its own full-scale counteroffensive.
Russian casualties in Ukraine
Russian forces continue to bleed into the Ukraine. Despite calling up more than 300,000 reservists in September, the Kremlin is likely to resort to additional force-building measures to bolster Russian troops.
According to the US intelligence community, Russian President Vladimir Putin is contemplating additional mobilization of reservists to fill gaps created by casualties and also to give the Russian military more offensive capability in Ukraine.
However, it is most likely that an additional mobilization would have a political cost, and that is why Putin has not yet called for it.
Overall, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry claimed that, as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces had killed approximately 145,850 Russian soldiers (and wounded approximately double or triple that number).
Destroyed material includes 299 combat, attack, bomber and transport aircraft; 287 attack and transport helicopters; 3,350 tanks; 2,352 artillery pieces; 6,593 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 471 multiple launch systems rocket launchers (MLRS); 18 ships and cutters, 5,215 vehicles and fuel tanks, 244 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,029 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 226 special equipment platforms such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 873 cruise missiles shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.
Heavy fighting on the ground
Over the past two days, Russian forces have launched repeated assaults on Bakhmut in Donbas in an attempt to break down Ukrainian defenses.
The Kremlin probably aimed to capture the Ukrainian city by February 24 to mark the first anniversary of the conflict. However, the Ukrainian defenses continued to hold despite the significant casualties suffered.
Right now, Russian forces are attacking mainly from the north and south in an attempt to cut the Ukrainian communication and supply lines leading to the city. Despite Russian pressure, the Ukrainians have so far managed to keep resupply routes open to the west of the country.
Although the Ukrainian defenses continue to hold, the Russian forces have advanced in the past six weeks. But the Russian forces are also attacking in the south of Donbas, in the direction of Vuhledar.
The Russian army is launching heavy artillery barrages against the Ukrainian positions, most likely in order to set the stage for another major assault. The Russian Eastern Group of Forces has twice failed in its attempt to capture the city, with heavy losses.
“Its commander, Colonel General Rustam Muradov, is likely to be under intense pressure to improve results following harsh criticism from the Russian nationalist community after previous setbacks,” British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
However, British Military Intelligence estimated that the Russian commander did not have the offensive capabilities necessary to achieve a decisive advance.