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Ukraine: why the Russian army wants to focus on the east of the country

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On the 30th day of the clashes in Ukraine, Russian forces now want to concentrate on the east of the country. While it is difficult to determine Vladimir Putin’s clear strategy for the time being, it is certain that the Russian president will show no sign of weakness at the heart of this war.

DECRYPTION

After 30 days of conflict, Vladimir Putin is focusing on eastern Ukraine. If it is too early at this stage to say if this is a turning point in the war, after two weeks of stagnation of the Russian army, it is clearly a strategic repositioning for the troops of Vladimir Putin. The operational problem for the head of the Kremlin is that he does not have much other choice: he therefore prefers to show that it is a decision on his part, a choice, rather than a concession which could appear like a weakness.

Vladimir Putin may no longer have the military capacity to carry out several operations at the same time in several areas of Ukraine. Hence this desire to concentrate his troops only in the west of the country, where he has most of his soldiers.

A balance sheet to be measured with caution

As for the human toll, the Russian general staff announces 1,351 dead and 3,825 wounded. For Western intelligence, these data are very weak and largely underestimated. American intelligence estimates the losses on the Russian side at between 7,000 and 9,000 dead and between 20,000 and 30,000 wounded, thus respecting the commonly accepted ratio of one dead for three or four wounded soldiers. For their part, the Ukrainians estimate the dead at 15,000. A figure that is undoubtedly inflated.

The subject is ultra-sensitive, because since the start of the offensive, Vladimir Putin does not want to show that his “special operation”, as he calls it, is slipping. Moreover, the Russian army takes a long time to repatriate the remains of its soldiers, to avoid showing that the dead are more numerous than expected. By way of comparison: during the two wars in Chechnya, Russia recorded 12,000 deaths. A figure close to the current toll of the war in Ukraine, according to the Americans.

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