Over the 705 days since Russia expanded its conflict with Ukraine, the average number of heavy weapons, including tanks, fighting vehicles, and howitzers, lost by Russian forces daily stands at 19—either destroyed, abandoned, or captured.
On the recent Saturday, their losses were notably higher, with at least 54 heavy weapons lost and an additional 16 damaged. This marked one of the most severe days for Moscow in the ongoing war. Open-source analyst Andrew Perpetua, who meticulously records and publishes daily vehicle losses, highlighted this grim milestone on Sunday, emphasizing that it was the highest count he had observed in a single day.
Ukrainian losses, in contrast, remained relatively light, with nine vehicles lost and 21 damaged. The majority of Ukrainian losses consisted of trucks and civilian vehicles repurposed for military supply operations. The Russians, on the other hand, faced significant setbacks, losing 16 tanks, along with a staggering 29 fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers. In comparison, Ukraine lost two tanks and a single APC.
It is essential to note that the vehicles recorded by Perpetua on Sunday may not have been lost on that specific Saturday. However, since he documents losses daily, the date of his tally serves as a useful approximation for when the write-off occurred—subtracting 24 hours provides an estimate of the actual loss date.
The critical question arises: Can the Kremlin sustain this rate of loss? The straightforward answer is no. With the production of new armored vehicles lagging, Russian forces predominantly rely on older Cold War-era vehicles retrieved from long-term storage. These reserves are finite, as highlighted by analyst @HighMarsed, who, using satellite imagery, tracked the reactivation of 1,081 of Russia’s pre-war inventory of 4,811 BMP fighting vehicles in December.
Among the remaining 3,730 vehicles, at least 765 were deemed “visible broken beyond repair.” Analysts at Oryx reported that in 2022 and 2023, Russia experienced an average monthly loss of around 80 BMPs. If this rate persisted into 2024, coupled with steady production of 30 to 40 new BMPs per month, the Kremlin would have exhausted its fighting vehicle reserves by early 2026.
However, the current challenge lies in the fact that Russia is losing vehicles at an accelerated rate in 2024. The Sunday tally by Perpetua revealed a loss of 13 BMPs and additional BTR fighting vehicles in a single day. This suggests a monthly BMP loss rate approaching 400, five times higher than observed in 2022 and 2023. At this accelerated pace, Russia may only have a six-month reserve of fighting vehicles, a stark departure from the previously estimated two-year reserve.
The increased losses extend beyond BMPs to include tanks and APCs. Despite pro-Russia Republicans in the U.S. Congress cutting off aid to Ukraine and Hungary attempting to block European assistance, Ukrainian troops, armed with drones and entrenched strategies, not only persist but are winning the war of attrition.
Encouragingly for supporters of a free Ukraine, the Ukrainians are successfully thwarting Russian assault groups with minimal territorial losses. Even in the most intense front sectors, such as around Avdiivka, the Russians advanced only a hundred yards in the south and three-quarters of a mile in the north on one of their most costly days of the war. This prompts reflection on the rationality and morality of trading 54 armored vehicles and over 800 troops, according to the Ukrainian general staff, for just a few hundred yards of territory.