Two weeks after the full-scale invasion ordered by Putin on February 24, figures released by Ukraine’s defence ministry published data which, if accurate, underlines the mauling which his forces have been taking. As well killing thousands, as of today, Ukraine’s military claimed to have destroyed 56 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRs), 49 planes, two boats, 81 helicopters, 526 cars, 335 tanks, 60 fuel tanks, 123 artillery, seven unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, 1,105 armoured vehicles and 29 anti-aircraft warfare weapons.
In addition, two senior Russian commanders are believed to have been killed – Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, chief of staff of the 41st Army, outside the city of Kharkiv in the east of Ukraine, and Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, apparently killed by a sniper near the southern port city of Mariupol.
Addressing the current situation, Henry Wilkinson, Chief Intelligence Officer with Dragonfly Intelligence, said: “The Russians are clearly taking control of territory. But what is much less clear is the extent to which they are actually really controlling those spaces.”
Russian forces were operating in “extremely challenging conditions”, over treacherous terrain, he stressed.
He added: “It’s clear that the Russians are making a push towards Kyiv, that’s always been known as their key strategic objective, to basically unseat the government.
“So taking control of the capital is obviously an integral part of the strategy and they do seem to be trying to take control of towns with quite a lot of mixed success.
“I think looking at where things are right now, it’s certainly true that the Ukrainian Defence has been considerably more robust than the Russians were planning for.”
Mr Wilkinson explained: “It is clear that the Russians clearly have considerably more resources, particularly in terms of human resources, to bring to bear in a conflict.
“I think that what we’re seeing is that Russia has the advantage of mass. What does seem to be clear, though, is that it hasn’t been as effective as many feared in terms of being able to use that advantage.”
He stressed: “It looks quite chaotic. The logistics element has clearly been reported on a lot, that a lot of weapon systems that they’re deploying like tanks and anti aircraft, missiles and all these sorts of things are just running out of fuel and then being abandoned.
“And actually they’re also quite exposed. They don’t have support units to protect them. Whenever they make gains, they seem to be sort of losing them quite a bit.”
It was important to acknowledge that no clear picture had yet emerged about the scale of Ukrainian losses, Mr Wilkinson pointed out.
He added: “I think what we can say really is from what we’re picking up about the Russian military effort, there are a lot of conscripts, miscommunications, and there’s this big question over this stalled convoy in the north.
“That points to the fact that, although Russia enjoys a significant advantage in terms of mass, its ability to really deploy that mass and execute its plans seems to be extremely weak, and this is what the Ukrainians are essentially benefiting from, as well as more advanced weaponry that they’re getting, and they’re able to pick off Russian forces.”
Russian forces north-west of Kyiv have made “little progress” and are “suffering continued losses” at the hands of the Ukrainian military, a Ministry of Defence update said today.
A “notable decrease in overall Russian air activity” over Ukraine has been noted in recent days, “likely due to the unexpected effectiveness and endurance” of Kyiv’s air defences, the MoD added.
The update also accused Russia of deploying conscript troops to Ukraine and said Vladimir Putin will have to draw from across his forces “and other sources to replace his losses”.