Ukraine Update: Russia has highest single-day losses since invasion began

For weeks, there has been a tendency to treat the Ukrainian force on the eastern (left) bank of the Dnipro River as if it represents Ukraine catching Russia by surprise and poking into a weak point in Russian defenses. Both of those things are likely true. But the whole truth about Ukrainian operations in this area appears to be much less one-sided than many past reports suggest.

Ukraine’s repeated forays across the river established bridgeheads in at least four locations and near the town of Krynky. Ukraine drove over 2 kilometers from the river to liberate a section of the town and a major supply route. From a distance, and from images of Russian forces eliminated in the woods southwest of Krynky, it has all looked good. However, a New York Times article from Saturday paints a much grimmer picture of Ukraine’s operations along the river, making the idea of a breakthrough from this direction seem much less likely.

What that article reveals is what should have been obvious: There is no easy area on the 2,000-kilometer-long front. Ukrainian forces are fighting in tough, miserable conditions everywhere, and the day-to-day conditions are always touch and go.

But that doesn’t by any means suggest that they are losing this war. Because, as today’s numbers show, Russia is very definitely losing.

Some of the ugliness illustrated in that New York Times report should have been expected. For weeks, the video-confirmed losses reported by Andrew Perpetua have featured a large number of boats lost on the Ukrainian side. It’s foolish to think all those boats were either empty, drones, or in some area away from the front. Those boat losses represent how difficult it is to make it across the wide Dnipro River unobserved and without being attacked by artillery or drones.

As was clear almost from the moment Ukraine established its first bridgehead near the fractured bridge at Antonivka, it has seemed unlikely that Ukrainian forces could seriously contend with Russian occupiers in the area unless some physical connection could be made between the two banks. That hasn’t happened, and the longer the small units sit on the eastern side, the more time Russia has to observe and respond to attempts to cross. The description of conditions is brutal.

However, according to the Ukrainian General Staff, this is what the last day looked like for Russian forces.

On the personnel front, that’s not the largest number of Russian troops lost in any single day. It’s not even the highest in the past two weeks. But when it comes to tanks and armored vehicles … damn: 44 tanks, 60 armored troop carriers, 56 trucks and other vehicles, and, to top it all off, 38 artillery guns.

Those are battalion-sized losses, and it follows a solid week in which there have been double-digit Russian tank losses every day. By Ukrainian estimates, here’s what Russia has lost in just the first 18 days of December:

These are unsustainable losses for any army. I realized we’ve gone through exercises very much like this multiple times in the past, always with the same theme: Russia can’t keep this up forever. And here we are weeks or months later, saying it again.

It’s still true.

That doesn’t mean Russia is going to crack tomorrow, next week, or next month, but their losses greatly exceed their ability to replace lost equipment. For all their reliance on meat waves, it’s not even clear they can replace the last men. U.S. defense intelligence estimates Russia has lost 90% of the army it brought to Ukraine at the start of the invasion. At the rate of losses over the last month, Russia is carving deep into the troops who replaced those original troops. Each iteration brings less experience, less training, fewer officers, and worse equipment.

All that has to happen is for Ukraine’s supporters to provide them with the equipment and ammunition to continue the fight until Russia is too exhausted to sustain the enormous front. More than tanks, planes, artillery, or even drones, that’s going to demand the most precious resource on the battlefield at this point: patience.

If Russia has experienced losses of the magnitude that Ukraine is reporting, the next obvious question is … where? Was this another attempt to cross a river like the unbelievable disaster at Bilohorivka? Did Russian forces drive stubbornly into an obvious trap as they did at Vuhledar? The simple answer is: I don’t know.

Dealing with sources on Telegram can be frustrating. Some are concerned about operational security and reluctant to provide anything specific. Others are more interested in hinting that they know, even when they don’t. In any case, the closest thing to an official answer to where Russia lost so much equipment can likely be found by looking at another set of stats.

In the situation update that followed those reported losses, Ukraine reported that there had been 101 combat engagements in the past day:

  • 24 engagements in the area around Kreminna, specifically in the forests southwest of the city and near the village of Terny, to the west.

  • 4 engagements at unspecified locations south of Bakhmut.

  • 22 engagements in the area near Avdiivka,

  • 11 engagements at Marivka, with specific mentions of Krasnohorivka and Novomykhailivka.

  • 5 engagements in the south around Robotyne.

  • 3 engagements near Prechystivka, about 13 kilometers west of Vuhledar.

In describing one of these areas of engagement, the general staff reports that “Ukrainian soldiers are standing their ground as they inflict major losses on the enemy.” That area, unsurprisingly, is Avdiivka.

This thread on X (and yes, I’m breaking with my recent policy and directly linking to the website formerly known as Twitter, even though this first post doesn’t have a video) gives some sense of just how disastrous the last day at Avdiivka has been for Russian forces.


The remaining posts in this thread show that this area has simply become a cemetery. Not merely a cemetery of damaged equipment, but a cemetery of unburied and unretrieved Russian bodies, which litter the ground in areas as thickly as fallen leaves. That Russia can force anyone to march out into this area when they can clearly see the remains of the last dozen or more waves shredded on the pockmarked soil ahead seems beyond belief.

The damage displayed in that thread may be incredible, but this tweet from last week may be best in showing just how incredibly intense combat has been in this location over an extended period.


Almost all the smoke rising in this video is from Ukrainian positions, though the flashes in the distance show explosions and fighting where the Russians are attempting to advance near the Terrikon hill.

Like so many images from this war, it’s hard to imagine how anyone can survive.

Since Vladimir Putin has burned through one army and gotten a good start on a second, where will he come up with the additional troops to be the meat in future futile assaults? Russian state media reports on the answer.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree making it easier for nationals of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Moldova to become Russian citizens, with the relevant document being published on the official portal of legal information.

Not surprisingly, the new law makes it easier for those who are over 18 to become official Russian citizens. No residency permit, no knowledge of Russian history, or even a single word of the Russian language is required. Just sign right here, buddy. Vladimir Vladimirovich has a surprise for you!

The Atlantic has an op-ed about the not-at-all-hidden connections between Republicans, Russia, and Donald Trump.

Ukraine’s expendability to congressional Republicans originates in the sinister special relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Pre-Trump, Republicans expressed much more hawkish views on Russia than Democrats did. Russia invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea in spring 2014. In a Pew Research survey in March of that year, 58 percent of Republicans complained that President Barack Obama’s response was “not tough enough,” compared with just 22 percent of Democrats.

That was before Republicans saw the light. As in the benefits of siding with authoritarian governments who shared their fear of democracy.

Another day, another example of how getting your ammo from an isolated kingdom that has fought only fantasy battles for decades might not be the best idea.


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