The Russian military has been able to stall the unfolding Ukrainian counteroffensive in southern Ukraine and the Donbas.
For three months, the Russian forces have defended skillfully against repeated Ukrainian attempts to breach their extensive defensive lines.
But in the process, the Russian military and the pro-Russian separatist forces fighting alongside it have suffered horrendous casualties.
Interestingly, in August, the Russian forces took fewer casualties than in the previous two months of the summer.
Russia’s August Casualties in Ukraine
Although the Russian forces were largely effective in stalling the Ukrainian counteroffensive, they suffered heavy casualties in the process. In the three months of the Ukrainian large-scale offensive operation, Russia has lost close to 60,000 men.
In June and July, the Russian military lost a total of about 40,000 troops (20,000 each month). Then, in August, the Russian forces took approximately 16,500 losses in troops.
The Russian forces really started taking heavy casualties last fall when Moscow launched a full-scale offensive to capture Bakhmut in the Donbas. In November, the Russian military lost 16,400, and in December, 16,500.
In January, the Russian Ministry of Defense launched another large-scale offensive, which spiked the number of Russian losses. That month, the Russian forces lost about 20,200 men. Monthly casualty rates only increased from then on. In February, Moscow took 21,500 losses, and in March peaked at an all-war high of 24,000 men.
The Russian large-scale offensive failed to achieve an operational breakthrough, but in the ensuing weeks, the Russian forces managed to capture the ruined Bakhmut.
The Russian forces have also taken extremely heavy materiel losses throughout the conflict, with tens of thousands of destroyed main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, and drones, among other weapon systems.
Russian Force Generation Woes
According to U.S. and Western intelligence assessments, the Russian forces have taken more than 300,000 casualties killed, wounded, and captured in about 19 months of fighting.
Putin ordered a partial mobilization of the reserves last September as well as greenlighted the now-out-of-favor Wagner Group private military company to recruit tens of thousands of convicts from Russia’s vast penal colonies.
The Kremlin has now turned its attention to minorities and foreign workers in Russia to produce more forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense has stated that it wants to recruit more than 400,000 contract soldiers by the end of the year.
However, this measure is unlikely to produce the quality and the number of troops necessary to achieve offensive results on the ground. As a result, the Russian forces will likely be restricted only to defensive warfare and wait until the Ukrainian military has suffered too much attrition to go on. Whether that will happen before Kyiv achieves an operational breakthrough remains to be seen.
Author Experience and Expertise
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.