Russia suffered more casualties in Ukraine than in any other conflict since World War II.

This photo taken on September 11, 2022 shows a Ukrainian soldier on top of an abandoned Russian tank near a village on the outskirts of Izyum in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP) (JUAN BARRETO /)

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimates that Russia has suffered more casualties in a single year in Ukraine than in any conflict it has been in since World War II. and that Russian forces are now mired in a “war of attrition” that will almost certainly require long-term support from the West if kyiv is to emerge victorious from the conflict.

Ukraine, in February 2023, has become “a trench warfare, wave attacks, artillery and high casualties on both sides”, according to experts from the American center, based in Washington DC In the case of Russia, they believe that 25 times more military die per month in Ukraine than in the Chechnya war and 35 times more than in Afghanistan in the same period.

Specifically, according to the group, Russia has suffered between 60,000 and 70,000 combat deaths in Ukraine between February 2022 and February 2023between regular soldiers, fighters from pro-Russian militias, and contractors from private military companies such as the Wagner group. This death toll It exceeds the combined number of casualties from all conflicts with a Soviet or Russian presence since 1945.

In general, Russia has suffered between 200,000 and 250,000 total casualties (counting wounded, dead and missing personnel) during the first year of the war. These casualty estimates also include regular Russian soldiers, militiamen, and private contractors.

All of this is now happening at a pace that has slowed down considerably since Moscow’s attempted “lightning invasion” a year ago. Neither side, the CSIS perceives, has gained much territory since the successful Ukrainian offensives late last year, and the casualties continue to mount.

Both armies have suffered significant damage to their weapons systems – Russia has lost approximately 50 percent of its modern T-72B3 and T-72B3M main battle tanks since the war began – with which to engage over nearly 1,000 years. kilometers of combat front.

innovative spirit

Ukrainian servicemen fire a 2S5 Giatsint-S self-propelled howitzer at Russian troops outside the town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 5, 2023. REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva
Ukrainian servicemen fire a 2S5 Giatsint-S self-propelled howitzer at Russian troops outside the town of Bakhmut, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 5, 2023. REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva (STRINGER/)

Experts applaud that Ukraine is fighting “extremely well” against a superior enemy in material resources, partly thanks to the “innovative” character shown by the Ukrainian Army, as exemplified by the use of drones, a tactic pushed from the lowest echelons of the ranks, thanks to the flexibility of the chain of command towards new ideas.

Ukraine is not the first country to use drones in conventional warfare, but CSIS highlights, in this case, the “use of a wide variety of these devices in a large number of missions”as well as its integration to attack more sophisticated sets of targets, compared to previous combat scenarios.

To this is added Ukraine’s use of the Starlink system to integrate some of its systems, another tactical innovation that has allowed Ukraine to overcome Russian interference. This system is a commercially owned constellation of satellites developed by SpaceX to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband Internet using advanced satellites in low-Earth orbit.

In the ‘must’ it is worth noting a certain reluctance of the Ukrainian government regarding the flexibility exhibited by the military. According to CSIS interviews, the lack of official support from the Ukrainian government discourages the adoption of volunteer-made systems, preventing the military from expanding their use to the entire force.

Some officers fear the consequences of using a system for which they do not have government permission. Others lack the necessary communications hardware to take advantage of potentially valuable software.

However, CSIS experts remind that this innovation is not enough. It is an “inherently risky process, which can contribute to a false theory of victory” due to excessive speed in applying these advances on the battlefield.

more weapons

Ukraine needs, for this reason and according to the group of experts, a large amount of more conventional supplies to keep up with the fighting in a conflict with no end in sight. “The West,” they explain, “must prepare for a long war and to provide long-term support for Ukraine, including the United States.”

The country, they argue, now needs advanced systems to carry out offensive operations in a protracted war, such as air defense systems, long-range artillery, armored vehicles, fighter jets and ammunition, along with spare parts. “This type of ammunition, weapons systems and materiel are essential to help the Ukrainian forces carry out effective counterattacks against the entrenched Russian forces,” they explain.

All this because Russia, recalls the group, “still leads Ukraine in quantity of ammunition and quality of some weapon systems, such as long-range artillery, not to mention naval capacity. “Military aid from the US and other Western countries to date has been helpful, if sometimes too slow. In the future, US and Western defense industrial bases will be essential for a long and exhausting war of attrition,” the group concludes.

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