The Russian Casualties
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Sunday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 71,200 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 274 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 252 attack and transport helicopters, 2,672 tanks, 1,724 artillery pieces, 5,453 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 383 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,120 vehicles and fuel tanks, 197 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,412 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 154 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 352 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
In combination to the heavy casualties that the Russian military has been suffering in Ukraine, Moscow is having trouble raising more forces. Despite a partial mobilization that officially drafted 300,000 troops (unofficial estimates put the number of drafted Russians as high as one million), Russian frontline units are suffering from extreme manpower shortages. This has led Russian commanders to assume a defensive posture almost all across Ukraine. The Ukrainian forces had gained the strategic advantage, and now they have the operational and tactical ones too.
The Plight of Wagner Group
A few days ago, Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin went online and admitted the allegations that Wagner Group, the infamous private military company he founded, has dropped its recruiting standards in order to meet the manpower demands of the war in Ukraine.
Prigozhin is a very close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has used Wagner Group repeatedly in the past in order to achieve foreign policy goals all across the world, including Ukraine, Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, and Mali.
According to Prigozhin, Wanger Group is now recruiting Russian inmates with serious health issues, including HIV and Hepatitis C. The practice of Wagner Group recruiting from Russian prisons has already been verified through open-source intelligence.
“The role of Wagner Group has evolved significantly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In previous conflicts, it maintained relatively high recruitment standards, with many of its operators having previously served as professional Russian soldiers,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest operational update on the war.
If there was any question about whether the Russian forces prioritized quantity over quality, the embarrassing admissions by one of Putin’s closest allies should dismiss any doubts about the recruiting priorities of the Russian military and the dire situation it has found itself in after nine catastrophic months of war in Ukraine.
Wagner Groups is playing an increasingly more important role in the Russian campaign.
“Prigozhin’s has recently discussed plans to create a 200km long defensive ‘Wagner Line’ in eastern Ukraine. This endeavour would require a large labour force. There is a realistic possibility that some of the convict recruits will initially be put to work constructing the defences,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
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