It’s been two months since the Kremlin began its full-scale assault on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, leading the force of its massive arsenal along a 300-mile front, inflicting heavy casualties on Ukrainian forces as its fighters pushed their way through. to grueling profits.
Russia now controls 80 to 90 percent of the region, according to estimates. But the campaign has come at a high price. After weeks of bloody battles and sustained defense by underprivileged Ukrainian soldiers, Russian forces are likely to be severely depleted of both men and equipment.
An entire Russian regiment – which, when fully manned, could include several thousand troops – was forced to withdraw from the eastern front “to restore combat capacity” after suffering heavy casualties, the Ukrainian army said on Saturday. The Ukrainians also said they had destroyed “30 units of various enemy equipment and weapons” in the 24 hours from Friday morning. Russia “continues to suffer significant losses,” the Ukrainians said late on Saturday.
The claims could not be independently verified, but if confirmed they would be signs that the struggle for control of the Donbas is taking a heavy toll on Russian forces already battered in the early months of the war trying to control Kiev. conquer the capital and other cities in the north.
“The Russians have probably lost somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of their armored strength,” General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week. “That’s big. So the Ukrainians are tactically fighting a very effective fight with both firing and maneuvers.”
General Milley said “the numbers are clearly in favor of the Russians” when it comes to weapons, making the additional $1 billion that the White House pledged to Ukraine for more artillery, missile systems, coastal defense weapons and ammunition was critical.
As Ukraine anxiously awaits the arrival of weapons, Russian troops are killing as many as 200 Ukrainian soldiers every day, Ukrainian officials say. The Ukrainians are desperately trying to hold their own in the destroyed city of Sievierodonetsk, while also defending themselves against a wider encirclement of their forces in the area by Russians advancing from the north, south and east.
Unable to drive the Ukrainians out of Sievierodonetsk after weeks of intense bombing and urban fighting, Russia tried to improve its “tactical situation” by conducting strike operations outside the city, the Ukrainian army said on Saturday.
“Now the fiercest fighting is near Sievierodonetsk,” said Serhiy Haidai, the regional governor of Luhansk province, which is part of Donbas.
Michael Kofman, the director of Russia studies at CNA, a research group in Virginia, said in a recent analysis that if the Russians broke through in Sievierodonetsk, their struggle for labor could still hamper their ability to progress.
“The Russian military has spent months trying to recruit additional soldiers, deploy reservists and now organize additional battalions based on the existing force structure,” wrote Mr Kofman, adding: “These are patchy efforts that the Russian military has made in enable itself to sustain itself in the war, but do not address the fundamental shortage of manpower.”
British military intelligence reported on Sunday that the fierce, slow fighting in the east is likely to take a toll on the morale of both armies.
“Ukrainian troops have likely faced desertion in recent weeks,” agency says said in his latest public review† But it described the problems in the Russian ranks as more systemic and serious, including “cases of entire Russian units refusing orders and armed standoffs between officers and their troops.”
“The moral problems in the Russian armed forces are probably so great that they limit Russia’s ability to achieve operational goals,” it said.