Recent developments in Ukraine’s southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia have raised concerns about escalating Russian troop losses and the reinforcement of military units.
According to the Washington-based Institute of Study of War (ISW), these developments signal potential challenges for the Russian military. In this article, we delve into ISW’s assessment, highlighting key findings regarding Russian losses and troop movements in the region.
Escalation of Russian Losses:
ISW’s report indicates a significant increase in Russian troop losses in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Ukrainian military sources reported that on September 18, Russia suffered 313 military casualties in the Tavria sector. This figure marks a notable rise compared to the previous two days, during which Russian forces lost approximately 200 personnel each day.
Russian Airborne (VDV) Forces in Defensive Operations:
The assessment also underscores the involvement of Russian Airborne (VDV) forces in defensive operations within the Tavria sector. These VDV units have received support from “Storm-Z” detachments consisting of convict recruits, deployed to provide cover for the VDV units.
Degradation of VDV Forces:
ISW notes that earlier operations involving elements of the 7th Guards Mountain VDV Division and 76th Guards VDV Division in the Robotyne area may have substantially degraded these VDV forces. This degradation could be a factor contributing to Russia’s increasing troop losses in the region.
Limitations of “Storm-Z” Detachments:
The think tank expresses concerns about the effectiveness of “Storm-Z” detachments, often considered combat ineffective. Consequently, their contribution to the Russian defense in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast is likely to be of marginal combat power.
British Intelligence Report:
A UK intelligence update provides further insights, suggesting that Russia has recently bolstered the 58th Combined Arms Army in the Orihiv direction, Zaporizhzhia region, with airborne assault units. These reinforcements consist of VDV regiments drawn from the 7th and 76th divisions and are concentrated near the frontline village of Robotyne. However, it is important to note that these units are likely operating at a significantly reduced strength.
The evolving situation in Zaporizhzhia raises questions about the Russian military’s capacity and strategy. The increase in troop losses, especially among VDV forces, may necessitate a reevaluation of Russia’s approach to the conflict in Ukraine. While additional reinforcements have been introduced, concerns persist regarding the effectiveness of these units and their deployment in defensive roles rather than as a highly mobile, striking force.
As developments continue to unfold, the international community closely monitors the situation in Zaporizhzhia, hoping for a resolution that can contribute to lasting stability in the region.