by Raffaele Crocco
10.749. This is the number of Ukrainian civilians who have died since the Russian invasion. The 75th week of this phase of the war brings us confirmation of the drama. What killed these people were aircraft or artillery bombs, rockets, Russian shelling. 499 of them were children. All of them were unarmed. All of them did not want to die. All of them were not fighting. That is the crime called war. A crime that continues. “Moscow has been attacked again, war has come to Russia”. This is what the mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence announced that two Ukrainian drones had been shot down in the Odintsovo and Narofominsk districts. Moscow’s Vnukovo airport was temporarily closed, with flights diverted to other airports.
The Kremlin, of course, responded with bombings in Odessa, Kyiv and Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukrainian President Zelensky. The first attack killed at least four people and wounded 17 in the Kherson region alone. Andriy Yermak, head of President Zelensky’s office, immediately tweeted in defiance: “The Russians,” he wrote, “cannot win on the battlefield, so they terrorise and kill. Ukrainians will never break. Russia will”.
The war continues, bitterly. The number of military casualties remains a mystery. Estimates put the total number of casualties at around 300,000, in both armies, but the reality is that no one can give an accurate estimate. Just as no one really knows what the situation is like on the ground. The Ukrainian offensive seems to be continuing with slow, uncertain and inconclusive results. Kyiv’s forces have not managed to break through the Russian defence system, except in a few sectors of the front and with very shallow advances. Experts say this is not a failure, as Kyiv’s combat units retain a significant operational capability. But the ambition of victory has been shelved for good.
Meanwhile, British intelligence says Russia is likely to have begun building up significant new formations to add depth to its ground forces. “Since its invasion of Ukraine,” the British analysts write, “Russia has mainly used mobilised reservists to supplement existing formations or as part of infantry regiments for territorial defence. Rarely has it created new, fully equipped organisations such as combined armies designed to be a self-sufficient force.
Thus, according to the Ministry of Defence in London, “Russia is likely to use any new formation in Ukraine as a reserve force. In the long term, however, Russia wants to build up its forces in the face of NATO. Without a major new wave of conscription, Russia is unlikely to find enough new recruits to fund even a new army”.