Russian Forces Fall Apart Across Ukraine As Casualties Mount

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Russian military personnel are encountering stiff resistance from Ukrainians across the country as Vladimir Putin’s invasion unfolds, and with weeks already past in the conflict — and 2 million people and counting having fled Ukraine as refugees — Russian forces have been held back from capturing key areas including the capital, Kyiv, and the city of Kharkiv, although they’ve been tentatively and somberly successful elsewhere, including in Kherson. Still, Russian successes in terms of accomplishing Putin’s political ambitions have been limited. Ukrainian forces claim that over 12,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the fighting, and although exact numbers would seem poised to shift, Western officials have tentatively backed up the notion that thousands of Russian military personnel have been killed.

Ukrainian forces have also made serious dents on Russia’s equipment capacity. Going off an apparent expert in the field, The New York Times reported this week that satellite “imagery analyzed by military analysts suggests that roughly 950 Russian vehicles, including 140 tanks, have been destroyed or damaged.” Claims from Ukrainian forces are that four dozen Russian planes, 80 helicopters, over 300 tanks, and over 1,000 armored personnel carriers on the Russian side have been wiped out, although some of those instances could apparently include captures of the items by Ukrainian forces. A Russian warship is also among what Ukrainian personnel say they’ve removed from the battlefield. Recently, Ukrainian defenders claimed to take out dozens of Russian helicopters in rapid succession at an airbase around the captured Ukrainian city of Kherson. There have also been high-profile leaders on the Russian side killed in combat; among these is Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, who’d been chief of staff of Russia’s 41st Army and was reported to have been killed near Kharkiv, an area where Ukrainian civilians have come under heavy assault.

Ukrainian authorities intercepted a phone conversation in which officers of the Russian security agency known as the Federal Security Service, or FSB, went over Gerasimov’s death — and notably, in the course of the same conversation, it emerged that Russian secure communication capabilities have been seriously impeded amid fighting in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has touted the losses that Putin’s forces have sustained, noting on Tuesday that “Russia has not lost as much aircraft in the past 30 years as in 13 days in Ukraine.”

In Russia, there have been thousands upon thousands arrested in connection to demonstrations against the war, and ret. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman recently suggested that as the shock waves from military deaths settle in across Russia, it could help spell the beginning of the end for Putin. As Vindman put it, what “we haven’t started to bake in yet, and what the Russian public hasn’t started to bake in, is this devastating human toll. This is the fact that Ukrainian cities are being bombarded. Civilians are being killed. And if, in fact, there are 4,500 Russian dead and those body bags start coming back, or mothers start to ask about their children, that’s going to be untenable. That is going to cause shockwaves in Russia. It’s an earthquake for Russia that potentially reformats Russia in a different direction.”