Russia Releases Its Forces’ Death Toll in Ukraine, Revealing Staggering Losses

Russia on Friday released how many of its forces it says have died so far in the month-long war in Ukraine offering, predictably, a far smaller accounting of its battlefield losses than Western powers and Kyiv have estimated.

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More than 1,300 Russian troops have been killed during what Russian President Vladimir Putin insists on calling a “special military operation” in Ukraine that began on Feb. 24, according to Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, first deputy chief of the general staff at the Russian Ministry of Defense. He said the state would take over supporting these soldiers’ families, including paying for higher education, loan forgiveness and housing stipends.

NATO this week estimated that 7,000 to 15,000 Russians have died this month from fighting. Kyiv on Friday said its accounting puts that number in excess of 16,000. Russian state news deleted a post earlier this week suggesting troop deaths at roughly 10,000 with officials claiming the article’s publication originated from a cyberattack. Reports of at least a half-dozen deaths among Russian general officers have also wrought widespread attention and criticism over tactics.

Regardless of the disparity, even the Russian accounting presents a staggering acknowledgement of battlefield carnage for a supposedly contemporary military. The U.S., by contrast, lost 7,000 troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan across two decades of at-times intense, grinding combat.Russia Invades Ukraine: A Timeline of the CrisisView All 12 Slides

Friday’s announcement represents the first clear accounting from Russia since it began operations in Ukraine, where supposed lightning warfare has since bogged down into a burgeoning stalemate with entrenched Russian positions suffering from poor command, logistics and reinforcements. A depletion of Russian armaments combined with surprisingly effective Ukrainian defenses preceded Putin’s decision to begin the use of more indiscriminate weaponry and siege tactics against dense civilian centers, such as Mariupol and the capital Kyiv, causing widespread civilian casualties. Western officials have become increasingly concerned Russia may also turn to using chemical or biological weapons to gain a battlefield advantage, as Putin himself has appealed to foreign fighters from Syria and elsewhere to join his cause.

“Russia is likely now looking to mobilise its reservist and conscript manpower, as well as private military companies and foreign mercenaries, to replace these considerable losses,” the British Ministry of Defense assesses, according to a statement released Thursday night of Russia’s battlefield losses. “It is unclear how these groups will integrate into the Russian ground forces in Ukraine and the impact this will have on combat effectiveness.”

Ukrainian military officers on the ground have told U.S. News they have witnessed increased presence of Russian conscripts and reserve forces in their operations around the country.

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Indeed, the deadliness of the fighting in Ukraine has forced Russia’s military to shift from offensive operations to more entrenched fighting, as Western military officials observed this week. Myhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, assessed this week that the Kremlin had changed its tactics toward more defensive operations “to an acceptable level” from a propaganda perspective.

The Ukrainian general staff has also concluded that Russia is “beginning to realize that the available forces and means are not enough to maintain the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and are conducting defensive operations,” according to the Institute for the Study of War, which has tracked Russia’s movements in near daily reports.

Tags: deathRussiaUkraineworld news

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