Reports as of October 6, 2022
Cautious Judgement Required
Once a week, both the Ukrainian General Staff and the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense publish the damage they have done to their adversaries in the Russia-Ukraine War since its beginning on February 24. The Russians give an approximately five-minute video briefing also detailing recent events, which give some clues about fighting and military activity not reported by Western media. The Ukrainians have forbidden journalists in Ukraine from reporting anything that contradicts Ukrainian General Staff information or reveals troop movements or engagements not appropriate for public release. Both the Ukrainian General Staff and the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense released their weekly reports on October 6. The Ukrainian report is usually reported by the Kyiv Independent daily, which you can subscribe to at no cost and receive by email.
However, I would take a very cautious attitude toward these statistics. Deception is a major tool and constant aspect of war, and truth is often overshadowed by political propaganda objectives. In this case, enemy casualty counts and estimates are especially likely to be distorted, and allied casualty statistics suppressed.
The Kyiv Independent is a credible source with high integrity, but they only cover the Ukrainian side and information compatible with Ukrainian government views, so readers would profit by supplementing it with other informational sources, such as douglasmacgregor.com and Scott Ritter Extra on Rumble internet. An excellent foreign policy backgrounder would be John J. Mearsheimer’s 2018 book, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities.
The reports are similar in format, but the reporting categories are not exact. Here is the to-date data released by the Ukrainians on Russian losses.
61,330 troop “losses”. This might be accurate for total casualties, but not killed. Military consultant and author, Douglas MacGregor believes those dying might total at most one-third of this number.
2,449 Tanks destroyed.
5,064 Armored fighting vehicles destroyed.
1,424 Artillery units destroyed.
344 MLRS (multi-launch rocket systems) destroyed.
266 Aircraft (fixed wing) destroyed.
232 Helicopters destroyed.
15 boats and navy ships destroyed.
1,047 UAV Drones destroyed.
134 Special equipment units destroyed.
3,854 Military trucks and vehicles destroyed.
246 Cruise missiles destroyed.
Here is the Russian data for Ukrainian losses.
No figure is given for estimated casualties or killed. See below for independent estimate.
5,412 Tanks and Armored fighting vehicles destroyed. Note the Ukrainian data separates tanks from armored vehicles. The combined Ukrainian number would be 7,525 Russian tanks and armored vehicles destroyed.
3,452 Field Artillery units and mortars destroyed.
862 MLRS (multi-launch rocket systems) destroyed. The verbal report specifically indicated 21 U.S. supplied HMLRM (missiles) were destroyed inflight.
315 Fixed-wing Aircraft destroyed.
157 Helicopters destroyed.
2,160 UAV drones destroyed.
379 Anti-aircraft systems destroyed.
6,316 Special Military vehicles and automotive systems destroyed.
The verbal report indicated considerable Russian air and missile attacks against Ukrainian troops and facilities near Nikolaev (Russian name for Mykolaiv) between Kherson and Odessa. About 63 percent of Nikolaev’s 478,000 population are native Russian speakers.
End of Russian report.
Col. Douglas MacGregor estimates that Ukrainian forces killed in action to be more than 100,000 with perhaps at least another 200,000 wounded. Thus total losses would be at least 300,000.
What has been happening is that while Ukrainian forces attempt to advance, they are often cut to pieces by Russian artillery. The Russians have far more artillery ammunition and return artillery fire from Ukrainian batteries is often less than a fifth of massive Russian artillery barrages. Setting such artillery traps is a frequent Russian tactic. The Russians will retreat if necessary to conserve manpower and avoid encirclement by larger Ukrainian forces, but they usually exact a high cost as Ukrainian forces come in range of Russian artillery. According to one American estimate, the recent Ukrainian capture of Lyman, a nearly deserted and evacuated town of 20,000, protected by less than 2,000 lightly armed Russian militia and military police, the Ukrainian Army lost over 2,000 killed, while lightly armed Russian units pulling out lost only about 200.
The problem of the Russian Special Operation campaign in Ukraine has been that 200,000 Russian troops are not enough to protect a front of over 1,200 miles from close to 700,000 Ukrainian Army and reserves. With billions of dollars of new U.S. weapons pouring into to Ukraine, the Russians are going to be very vulnerable to being out-maneuvered and encircled by Ukrainian troops, many of them fresh from intensified equipment and battle training by British and American troops in Germany and the UK.
The Russians are in the process of bringing in 300,000 more troops to the Ukrainian battlefront, which are now stationed in various parts of the Russian Federation, some as far away as eastern Siberia. They are calling up recently discharged reservists to replace them. This could take as long as three months. The total active Russian Army is now only about 500,000, barely enough for defense of its huge territory. Russia’s total Armed Forces are about 1.2 million. However, they have nearly 23 million in mostly inactive veteran reserves. Currently, they may be capable of fighting NATO but certainly not invading NATO as frequently feared. The real strategic strength of the Russian Armed Forces are in the Russian Aerospace Force, Rocket Forces, and Navy, but their relatively small Army packs a punch far above its weight in artillery and armored forces.
There are two important time factors impacting the conflict in Ukraine. The first is whether the presently thinly spread Russians can avoid being defeated by maneuver and encirclement before reinforcements arrive.
The second is weather, and especially winter, which favors the Russians both in the field and politically. The October rains are likely to stall Ukrainian movement in the fall rasputitsa—the time of impossible mud, and the Russian artillery is better equipped to operate in mud. When the ground freezes in November and snow comes, the Russians will have the movement advantage until the Spring mud.
In politics and economics, the Russian winter advantage will be its powerful energy independence versus NATO’s self-imposed climate-change agenda, which will drive energy dependence and shortages. Many of the most important NATO and European Union allies of the United States and Ukraine may suffer severe heating, fuel, and food shortages this fall and winter. This is likely to drive political pressures to bring down governments supporting sanctions against Russian energy and other products and thus undermine support for the Ukrainian War. Germany and several other governments currently supporting the war could fall. In addition, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, held by the Russians, supplies a substantial percentage of all the electric power in Ukraine. Bulletin: Putin just restored gas supply to Italy, which is under new management with conservative Prime Minister Georgia Meloni.
At a recent Democratic fundraiser in New York, President Joe Biden said:
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis.”
I was an Air Force intelligence officer at Strategic Air Command headquarters during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, and I believe we are in even more danger of nuclear war than then. This is because the United States had not been so deliberate in poking the Russian Bear in 1962, whereas we have been both reckless and increasingly deliberate in poking the Russian Bear very close to home under the Obama and Biden Administrations at least since 2014 and the Maidan “Revolution.” Joe Biden was, of course, Vice President then and active in Ukrainian affairs and later in business through his son, Hunter Biden. In addition, Ukrainian President Zelensky seems to be growing increasingly desperate and unstable under the pressures of war and economic disaster and is actually the chief proponent of taking nuclear risks to save Ukraine.
The Maidan Revolution or “Revolution of Dignity” which was essentially organized rioting and a presidential coup to remove the duly elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Soon after, a new election resulted in billionaire oligarch Viktor Poroshenko becoming Ukrainian President. Poroshenko attempted to unite Ukraine and make it into a pro-Western bulwark by persecuting the 17 percent Russian speaking ethnic minority by suppressing Russian language and culture amounting to ethnic cleansing. The two most heavily Russian oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk attempted secession but were put down with brutal Ukrainian Army force including artillery. About 10,000 civilians died. The Minsk Agreement of February 2015 between Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany agreed to recognize the two Donbas oblasts as semi-autonomous republics within Ukraine, but the Ukrainians, including Volodymir Zelensky continually refused to implement it and finally killed any consideration of it in February 2022.
NATO has also been arming and training Ukrainian soldiers to fight the Russians for years. So we cannot claim Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “unprovoked.”
Further, the Biden Administration has strongly hinted at Russian regime change as an American foreign policy objective. The false and morally bankrupt slander that Putin=Hitler is its leading edge of regime change demonization. However, Putin’s most numerous and powerful political critics in Russian government are critical of Putin because they believe he has been too “liberal” (humanitarian) and not aggressive enough in pursuing Russian military objectives in Ukraine. Regime change strategies have a history of calamitous results.
On October 5, the New York Times was informed by a U.S. intelligence agency that parts of the Ukrainian government had authorized the car-bombing assassination of activist journalist and Putin ally Darya Dugina, daughter of Russian nationalist Aleksandr Dugin in Moscow on August 20. The intelligence agency denied prior knowledge.
Recently, Elon Musk proposed a solution that recognized that the rough treatment of the large Russian ethnic minority in Eastern and Southern Ukraine has been at the heart of the problem. Former President Trump has called for immediate negotiations. He is right, and we need to rethink American Foreign Policy and its methods. This may become an election issue in the U.S. soon. Even worse, we are in serious danger of war casualties and losses that Americans can no longer ignore.