SPECIAL REPORT: Putin’s Costly War In Ukraine
After two months of fighting, Russia has now lost 873 tanks, 179 aircraft, 21,800 troops… and the pride of its navy is lying on the bottom of the Black Sea
The scale of Russian troop losses in Ukraine has tipped 21,000 as Putin’s war rumbles into its third month today.
The latest statistics, published by the Ukrainian Land Forces this morning, suggest 21,800 Russian fighters have been killed amid bitter resistance from Ukraine’s armed forces and territorial defence units – though this figure could not be verified.
Meanwhile, the land forces claim to have dealt massive damage to Russia’s military equipment and machinery.
A total of 873 tanks are said to have been destroyed, along with 2238 armoured vehicles, 179 planes, 154 helicopters and 408 artillery systems.
Putin’s forces rolled across the border on February 24 from the north, east and south, and quickly made a beeline for Kyiv.
But they were forced to withdraw from the outskirts of the capital in late March and refocus their efforts on a targeted offensive in the eastern Donbas region after Ukraine successfully repelled their advances, inflicting heavy losses.
Russia’s vast troop losses have been put down to poor tactical decisions by Russian military leaders and a considerable underestimation of the capabilities of Ukraine’s armed forces.
At the start of the war, Russia’s military dwarfed that of Ukraine and led many to believe that the invasion would be swift and effective.
On February 24, Russia’s land army consisted of 280,000 full-time active soldiers compared with Ukraine’s 125,600.
But the amount of Russian soldiers needed to seize the whole country and control the entire population would be close to 1 million, according to Michael Clarke, a visiting professor in King’s College London’s department of war studies – suggesting the Kremlin woefully underestimated the amount of force needed to force its neighbours into submission.
In addition, Ukraine’s fighting force has grown dramatically thanks to the number of reservists who signed up in the weeks prior to the invasion, the influx of foreign fighters volunteering to fight for Ukraine, and the introduction of conscription.
Facing stiff resistance, morale among Russian troops is said to have tanked as they were shipped off to battle, underprepared, untrained and poorly equipped.
These issues have continued to plague the Russian invasion force, even as they pulled from Kyiv and other cities in order to concentrate on the seizure of the Donbas region.
‘Despite Russia making some territorial gains, Ukrainian resistance has been strong across all axes and inflicted significant cost on Russian forces,’ the UK Ministry of Defence said.
‘Poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstitute, re-equip and reorganise forces from prior offensives are likely hindering Russian combat effectiveness.’
Experts say this ‘second phase’ of the war – Russia’s attempt to seize territory in the Donbas region of Donetsk and Luhansk – is likely an outcome of its army’s slow progress and massive losses of troops and equipment early in the war, which prompted a change in tactics.
But experts no longer believe Russia has any designs on Kyiv, having sustained too many losses to continue pursuing control of the capital.
A steady stream of images and videos captured by Ukrainian armed forces personnel and regular citizens has provided constant evidence of Russian losses in Ukraine.
Footage obtained earlier this week from the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade – a formation of the Ukrainian Ground Forces – showed how a Russian tank was caught in an anti-tank missile system’s crosshairs before the projectile soared through the air and blew it to smithereens.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin travel to Kyiv today to discuss with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnky the kinds of weapons he needs to fight off Russia, after Biden’s announcement of the mammoth $800m military support package.
Alexander Khramchikhin, of the Moscow-based Institute for Political and Military Analysis, said the fighting could even go on for years in light of the capabilities of Ukraine’s armed forces, reinforced with Western aid packages and arms shipments.
‘Russia has so far achieved none of its objectives, and it’s not easy to see how it will achieve them in the future,’ he told AFP.
Russian troops invaded Ukraine on 24th February in what the Kremlin is calling a ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarise and denazify’ the country.
The invasion has now lasted two months, with Russia ‘most likely’ to intensify attacks in Ukraine before its 9th May Victory Day celebrations, according to UK intelligence.
Courtesy: Daily Mail