Fearing a Resumption of U.S. Aid to Ukraine, the Russians Are Attacking With Abandon—And Losing 80 Vehicles in a Day

‘I was not physically or emotionally prepared’ for the carnage, one analyst wrote


April 14, 2024

Trench Art


When Russia-aligned Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives blocked further U.S. aid to Ukraine starting in October, they all but handed Russia the initiative in its wider war on Ukraine.

Russian regiments attacked everywhere along the 600-mile front line. Starving for ammunition, Ukrainian brigades had no choice but to abandon the most vulnerable front-line cities and towns, starting with Avdiivka in the east.

Now there are signs the Republicans might soon relent, and allow a vote on $60 billion in fresh U.S. aid. For the Russians, that might mean it’s now or never. It should come as no surprise, then, that they’re attacking like there’s no tomorrow: furiously, urgently, recklessly. “The situation in eastern Ukraine has significantly escalated, with aggressor forces striking in the directions of Lyman, Bakhmut and Pokrovsk” in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Center for Defense Strategies noted on Sunday.

It surely is cold comfort to the Ukrainians on the front line that the assaults “lack coordination on a theater-wide scale,” according to CDS. “The enemy’s command cannot prioritize one operational direction, hence they are active on all fronts, preventing focused support and sustainment efforts.”

Russian losses are catastrophic. “During assault operations, the enemy employs the same tactical models that previously led to significant losses for them,” CDS explained.

Open-source analyst Andrew Perpetua, who scrutinizes battlefield videos to tally daily vehicle-losses in the 26-month wider war, on Sunday counted an eye-watering 83 destroyed, damaged and abandoned Russian tanks, fighting vehicles, trucks, artillery pieces and air-defense systems. “I was not physically or emotionally prepared for the number of videos that came out yesterday,” Perpetua wrote. “It was a lot.”

Ukrainian losses that Perpetua could identify amounted to 31 vehicles, most of them merely damaged. Ukrainian brigades held. “Defense forces have successfully repelled enemy attacks and operationally hinder the enemy from achieving their objectives,” CDS reported.

But the Ukrainians are desperately low on ammo, and the Russians know it. Russia’s popular Storm Z Telegram channel observed “the enemy’s decline in his own firepower.”

How much longer can the outgunned Ukrainians hold out? The Russians are determined to find out. They clearly are hoping the Ukrainians are near their breaking point.

And they might be. “Significant delays in Western aid, due in part to successful Russian information operations and Western hesitancy, have created an opportunity for Russian offensive operations,” the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C. explained.

But that coin has two sides. An increase in Western aid—especially a resumption of U.S. aid—could end that opportunity for Russian offensive operations. And soon.

The first of at least a million artillery shells that the Czech Republic acquired for Ukraine should begin arriving at the front any day now. And Mike Johnson, the Republican speaker of the U.S. House, vaguely has pledged finally to advance aid to Ukraine in the coming week.

If Johnson honors his word, these last few days of intensive Russian attacks in Ukraine could represent the culmination of Russia’s winter-spring offensive: the last chance for Moscow to take advantage of Kyiv’s long season of abandonment.  With renewed Western support, Ukrainian brigades might do more than just tenuously hold the line. They may be able to defeat Russian attacks and then counterattack—and potentially roll back Russia’s recent territorial gains.

The optimistic view is that Johnson is a man of his word, American support for Ukraine will resume and thus “time is running out for Russia,” according to Artur Rehi, an Estonian solder and analyst.

The pessimistic view is that Johnson isn’t serious. That the Russians will maintain their battlefield advantage—and continue their relentless assaults as Ukrainian ammo stocks dwindle to zero, and a Ukrainian retreat becomes inevitable.


David Axe – Forbes Staff. Aerospace & Defense.  He is a journalist, author and filmmaker based in Columbia, South Carolina.  Axe founded the website War Is Boring in 2007 as a webcomic, and later developed it into a news blog.  He enrolled at Furman University and earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2000. Then he went to the University of Virginia to study medieval history before transferring to and graduating from the University of South Carolina with a master’s degree in fiction in 2004.