During the first two weeks of its counteroffensive, the Ukrainian military suffered a significant loss of equipment, with 20% of the equipment sent to the battlefield being destroyed, according to a report by the New York Times. This high attrition rate played a major role in Kiev’s decision to pause the operation.
The counteroffensive, which began in early June, saw Ukrainian forces launching attacks along the front line from Kherson to Donetsk. Despite facing minefields and operating without air support, the Ukrainian military suffered heavy losses, with 26,000 men and over 3,000 pieces of military hardware lost, as reported by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The New York Times article, citing unnamed American and European officials, highlighted that the highest losses were incurred during the initial two weeks of the offensive. Up to 20% of Ukraine’s tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed during this period, including many vehicles provided by Western allies.
Notably, units equipped with Western equipment suffered even higher rates of loss. The 47th Mechanized Brigade, a NATO-trained unit, reportedly lost 30% of its 99 Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles in just two weeks. Similarly, the 33rd Mechanized Brigade lost nearly a third of its 32 German-made Leopard tanks in a single week.
Ukrainian soldiers on the ground described witnessing the destruction of Western vehicles. One soldier stated that at least six vehicles were destroyed in a single Russian artillery barrage, saying, “They all burned.” Another soldier mentioned that their unit’s Bradleys encountered anti-tank mines on a daily basis, resulting in the immobilization of the vehicles before they could reach Russian lines.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Russian forces have destroyed a total of 311 Ukrainian tanks since June 4, with at least a third of them being Western-made tanks, including Leopards. Putin made these remarks during an interview with Russia 24 TV.
After the initial two weeks, Ukrainian commanders decided to pause the counteroffensive, resulting in a decrease in losses to 10%, according to the New York Times. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged the pause and criticized the West for not providing enough weapons and equipment for a successful operation.
Western officials expressed disappointment with the pace of the offensive, considering the significant losses incurred by Kiev. Despite this, Zelensky and top Ukrainian officials maintain that the decisive phase of their counteroffensive is yet to begin.
In addition to the loss of equipment, Ukraine’s Western backers also face challenges in terms of ammunition shortages. Particularly, there is a shortage of 155mm artillery shells, prompting US President Joe Biden to admit that they are low on these shells and have resorted to sending controversial cluster munitions instead. The US has also delayed approving the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, which Kiev believes will help restart the faltering counteroffensive.
Overall, the Ukrainian military suffered significant losses of equipment during the initial two weeks of its counteroffensive, prompting a pause to reassess the situation. The destruction of Western-provided tanks and armored vehicles further highlights the challenges faced by Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Additionally, ammunition shortages and delays in receiving military support from Western allies add to the difficulties faced by Kiev in its efforts to regain control of its eastern territories.