How Ukraine's War of Attrition is 'Degrading' Russia's Army

Ukraine's relentless efforts to push back Russian troops in occupied southern areas of the country are so effective they are now "tangibly degrading Russian logistics and administrative capabilities," according to American analysts.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a U.S. defense and foreign affairs think-tank, released a lengthy report on Monday detailing the military operations between both sides. It is the latest in a series of analysis reports since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine back in February, sparking a bitter and bloody war.

The report, which focused on the province of Kherson Oblast, described analysts' opinion that a war of attrition—where one side seeks to simply "wear down" its enemy—is well underway, with the Russians the worst-off as a result.

Ukraine's strategy and reported success was laid out in the document's opening remarks.

Ukraine army
Ukrainian soldiers are pictured in Soledar, eastern Ukraine, in February, 2022. Kyiv's relentless efforts to push back Russian troops in occupied southern areas of Ukraine are so effective they are "tangibly degrading Russian logistics and administrative capabilities," according to American analysts. Getty Images

"The Ukrainian counteroffensive is tangibly degrading Russian logistics and administrative capabilities in occupied southern Ukraine," it began.

"As ISW has previously reported, Ukrainian officials explicitly confirmed that Ukrainian troops seek to attrit Russian logistical capabilities in the south through precision strikes on manpower and equipment concentrations, command centers, and logistics nodes.

"Ukrainian forces intend to slowly chip away at both Russian tactical and operational level capabilities in Kherson Oblast, and in doing so will likely have significant impacts on the administrative and bureaucratic capabilities of occupation officials."

The report went on to provide an example it suggested was evidence of the success of Ukraine's tactics, claiming that the Russian military chief in charge of the occupation had been forced to pause his plans to hold a referendum to try to ratify Russia's goal of annexation.

ISW analysts wrote: "The head of the Kherson Oblast occupation regime, Kirill Stremousov, told Russian media outlet TASS that his administration has paused annexation referendum plans in Kherson Oblast due to 'security' concerns. The Ukrainian Resistance Center similarly reported that Russian occupation authorities are abandoning plans for referenda due to the ongoing counteroffensive.

"Shortly after TASS published his comment, Stremousov posted on Telegram denying he called for a pause because his administration had never set an official date for the referendum. Both of Stremousov's statements indicate a high level of disorganization within occupation regimes that is likely being exacerbated by the effects of the counteroffensive."

The American analysis suggested that Putin's claims that forces from the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) were fighting better than professional Russian soldiers were likely designed to boost morale in those ranks and were "intended to promote recruitment [in those units]… [because] Russian forces have increasingly relied on DNR and LNR personnel as core fighting forces."

ISW's hard-hitting report, apparently laying bare Russia's failings, comes as Ukrainian military officials claimed Moscow's death toll passed 50,000 on Tuesday.

The New York Times, citing newly declassified intelligence, also reported that Russia had resorted to buying artillery shells and rockets from rogue state North Korea, as Western sanctions cut it off from global supply chains.

Newsweek has reached out to Russia's Foreign Ministry and Ukraine's Ministry of Defense for comment.