“Russian losses have reportedly significantly increased in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast in recent days, and the Russian military likely struggles with a lack of available combat-effective units that the Russian command is willing to laterally redeploy to this sector of the front,” ISW wrote in an assessment.
It highlighted that Ukraine’s military stated that on September 18, Russia lost 313 military personnel in the Tavria sector. This is “significantly higher than Russian losses during the previous two days when Russian forces lost roughly 200 personnel each day.”
Additionally, Russian Airborne (VDV) forces are conducting defensive operations in the Tavria sector. “Storm-Z” detachments with convict recruits have arrived to act as “cover” for VDV units.
The think tank assessment reported: “ISW has previously observed elements of the 7th Guards Mountain VDV Division and 76th Guards VDV Division conducting counterattacks against Ukrainian forces in the Robotyne area, and ISW has previously assessed that these operations have likely degraded these VDV forces heavily.”
Furthermore, ISW said: “’Storm-Z’ detachments are often combat ineffective and will likely provide the Russian defense in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast with marginal combat power.”
On Monday, a UK intelligence update revealed that over the past two weeks, Russia has likely additionally strengthened the 58th Combined Arms Army, which has found itself in a difficult situation in the Orihiv direction, Zaporizhzhia region, with airborne assault units.
“Over the last two weeks, Russia has likely further reinforced the hard-pressed 58thCombined Arms Army with additional VDV airborne units on the Orikhiv axis in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. A total of at least five VDV regiments drawn from the 7th and 76th divisions are likely now concentrated within several kilometres of the frontline village of Robotyne,” the British ministry of defense said in its war intelligence update.
It added: “At full strength, such a force should constitute around 10,000 elite paratroopers. However, almost all units are highly likely dramatically under strength. The current situation is likely to be seen as highly unsatisfactory by the VDV hierarchy.”
The British intelligence report highlighted: “Throughout the war Russian commanders have attempted to regenerate the airborne forces as a highly mobile, striking force for offensive operations. Once again, they are being used as line infantry to augment over-stretched ground forces.”