Attrition: What Russia Has Lost

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November 27, 2023: Invading Ukraine has been costly for Russia. Not just in economic terms but also heavy losses of military personnel, weapons and equipment. As of mid-November, Russia has lost 312,000 dead and at least twice as many badly wounded. Major equipment losses include 15,000 armored vehicles, a third of them tanks. The artillery losses of more than 8,400 howitzers, multiple rocket launchers and mortars have been heavy because artillery systems deliver most of the firepower. Anti-Aircraft Missiles are the most effective defense against rockets and guided missiles. These systems have become targets themselves and so far, nearly 600 have been lost. So far about 650 manned fixed wing and helicopter aircraft have been lost. Most of the aircraft used are unmanned and over 5,600 UAVs have been lost. Most of these were unarmed but a growing number are equipped with explosives and used as improvised cruise missiles. The most effective tactic with armed UAVs is to send in swarms, each swarm with several dozen UAVs, against a target. For an important, and well defended target, sending several swarms to attacks from different directions often succeeded. Another important target is ground vehicles such as trucks, tractor trailers and SUVs. So far about 10,000 of these have been destroyed. These vehicle losses are critical when long range missiles were used to destroy Russian supply storage sites and railroads. At that point essential supplies have to be brought in from further away using trucks. This has become more common as the Ukrainians discover the Russians have failed or been unable to stockpile supplies.

Another uniquely Russian problem is their failure to establish sufficient medical facilities to deal with all the wounded troops. When Russian forces retreat, they often leave wounded troops behind. The Ukrainians take better care of their wounded and often treat the abandoned Russian wounded. That means the grateful Russian wounded are now prisoners of war and not upset about that because as Ukrainian prisoners they will receive better medical care than they would with the Russian forces. These wounded prisoners are grateful for the medical treatment and often comment on the lack of such care in their own army. The wounded Russians realize that the superior medical care Ukrainian troops receive is one of the reasons the Ukrainians are winning. In the Russian army the poor treatment of the wounded is just another reason for declining morale. Newly arrived Russian reinforcements got to see the poor treatment of Russian wounded, something they had heard about and now knew was true and what could happen to them. Russian civilians are accustomed to a higher level of medical care and not expecting worse care in the military. Military medical care in peacetime is not much different than what civilians experience. During wartime, military medical care goes old school and is generally much worse than in peacetime. There is also a problem with the Russian military not doing any serious planning for large scale wartime casualties. The government and senior military leaders saw such planning as unnecessary because Russia would never let itself get into such a situation.

 

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