After a year since it invaded Ukraine, now Russia is in the brink of massive loss. On February 7, 2023, Kyiv claimed that Russian forces have suffered their deadliest day so far. Ukrainian military increased running tally of Russian military deaths from 1,030 overnight to 133,190. On the other side of the war, Russia claimed they had inflicted 6,500 Ukrainian casualties in January. Although this figure cannot be independently verified, it gives widespread skepticism of significant Russian success.
The fatalities proved that NATO and the western countries’ assistance to Ukraine worked. Not only were they sending heavy weaponry and ammunition in end 2022, European Union (EU) countries also injected 52 billion euros into military, financial and humanitarian aid. Germany has become the largest donor country in Europe to the Ukrainians.
“Until now, the EU’s support to Ukraine since the start of the war has always lagged behind that of the United States. This has changed in recent weeks, as the total value of EU commitments now exceeds those of the U.S. The large new EU pledges are a welcome development, given the major role of this war for European security,” says Christoph Trebesch, head of the team producing the Ukraine Support Tracker.
EU supports also came in the form of sanctions against Russia. Since the invasion on 24 February 2022, EU has adopted nine packages of sanctions, which included individual sanctions, economic sanctions and diplomatic measures. Major Russian banks also have been removed from the international financial messaging system Swift (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) which in turn impacted and delayed payments to Russia for its oil and gas exports.
Growing support provided by EU for Ukraine exacerbates Russia’s current situation. Mikhail Zvinchuk, a former Kremlin military press official and creator of Rybar Telegram channel stated on a Russian TV show, shared on his Twitter account @wartranslated at the end of January, that the Airborne Forces lost “40-50 percent of its staff” between February and September 2022.
As a follow up to massive loss and current failures, it is predicted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for second part of mobilization to be deployed in major offensive around spring-summer 2023. Based on the report signed by Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence, 300,000 to 500,000 Russian troops would be in addition to the hundreds of thousands of conscripts drafted during the fall campaign in late 2022.
According to Ukrainian news portal, Pravda, Russian total loss until 9 February includes:
- approximately 135,010 military personnel,
- 3,255 tanks,
- 6,468 armored combat vehicles,
- 2,244 artillery systems,
- 463 multiple-launch rocket systems,
- 232 air defence systems,
- 295 fixed-wing aircraft,
- 285 helicopters
- 1,967 operational-tactical UAVs,
- 796 cruise missiles
Unfortunately, there is no sign that the war is coming to an end and Moscow certainly will do whatever it takes for victory on the battlefield. It also has an objective to pit NATO members against each other. Turkey already rejects the idea to accept Sweden’s NATO membership bid for harboring Kurdish millitants after bloody coup attempt against President Erdogan in 2016. And Russia sees this as an opportunity to stir discord.
Sweden believed that Moscow is behind the Quran-burning stunt committed by Rasmus Paludan. Swedish foreign minister insisted this played directly into Russia’s hands while, Finland’s former prime minister, Alexander Stubb suggested that Russia might have been behind the Quran burning incident and warned of hybrid warfare tactics. Paludan, an anti-Islam activist who is holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship also reportedly burnt the Quran in April 2022. He repeated his vile act in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm on January 21, 2023.
Paludan later confirmed to Swedish media that the idea to burn the Quran was proposed to him by Chang Frick, a 39-year-old pro-Putin Russian journalist who also guaranteed that any damage costs that Paludan could sustain as a result of this protest will be covered. Frick confirmed that he paid for Paludan but claimed he did not believe that the protest had jeopardised Sweden’s NATO application.