WASHINGTON — The shockingly high Russian casualty rate in Ukraine means that President Vladimir V. Putin may not achieve one of his key war goals: capturing the entire eastern region of the country this year, a bid by the Biden administration. Officials and military experts say
According to the latest estimates by US intelligence and military officials, 500 Russian soldiers are killed or wounded every day. Russia’s war effort It has reduced to a grinding slog, officials said.
Russia’s glacial pace in the east has been further halted by the arrival of American multiple launch rocket systemThis has allowed Ukrainian troops to retake some areas and made it difficult for Russian troops to reach other areas.
Earlier this summer, Russian forces seized Ukraine’s Luhansk region, the easternmost part of the country. But in neighboring Donetsk, heavy casualties have stalled their progress, US military officials said.
“I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably inflicted 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months,” Colin Cahill, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday. Referring to the injured, he said.
“They have made some additional gains in the east, although not by much in the last couple of weeks, but it has come at an extraordinary cost to the Russian military because of how well the Ukrainian military has performed and all of the Ukrainian military’s Helped. Received.”
Two U.S. officials said Russian estimates of losses included about 20,000 deaths. Of this number, 5,000 are believed to be mercenaries. Wagner Groupone of the foreign fighters and a private force with ties to Mr. Putin said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss sensitive military assessments.
US officials say their casualty estimate is based on satellite images, communications intercepts, social media and on-the-ground media reports.
The Russian government classifies military deaths as a state secret, and the country’s war dead are rarely mentioned on state television. Russia last released an official figure in March, when it said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed in the war. At the time, US officials estimated that the number was around 5,000.
Officials say that Ukraine has also suffered heavy casualties. The Ukrainian government is reluctant to release figures but has said 100 to 200 of its soldiers are being killed every day.
Our coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war
Since Ukraine has been at war with Russian separatists for nearly a decade, it has a large pool of experienced soldiers to fight with. Still, US officials say the conflict has become Europe’s bloodiest land war since World War II.
But for Russia, a high death toll means slow progress. The result, Mr. Cahill said, is that “the situation in the east has essentially stabilized” and Russia has been forced to redeploy its forces in the south, as Ukraine accelerates its campaign to regain territory there. doing.
Mr. Putin has also swelled his ranks with veterans. But a senior defense official told reporters last month that the effectiveness of those on the battlefield is “pretty bad.”
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“The Russian military is severely depleted,” said Seth G. Jones, director of the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It affects their ability to fight an effective ground campaign in Ukraine.”
As the Russian military has suffered heavy casualties, U.S. and European officials said, it has struggled to bring reservists and new recruits into the fight.
Defense officials say Russia has already committed 85 percent of its field forces to the war, drawing troops from the country’s Far East and deploying them around the world. Before the February invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military had about 900,000 active-duty troops.
“The Russians probably don’t have enough effective combat forces to completely take Donetsk,” Mr. Jones said in an interview.
Moscow has also recruited Chechen soldiers and fighters from Syria, with its president, Mr Putin. Relying on those fighters, officials said, Mr. Putin has so far avoided a domestic outcry over the casualties and need, which amounts to a draft.
“They raised the age for recruitment in Russia and are doing other things to sweeten the pot for volunteers,” said Evelyn Farkas, director of the McCain Institute and a senior Pentagon official in the Obama administration. “They’re pulling people from all over.”
But, Ms Farkas added: “Unless they have a massive mobilization, which I don’t see them being able to do politically at the moment, they will be at a disadvantage.”
After capturing Luhansk, Russia said it was halting its campaign in the east to reorganize and rearm. But he continued to bombard cities and towns in the region and his troops continued to fight. Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops invaded the towns of Donetsk, retaking the lands there.
As fighting intensified in southern Ukraine, a series of explosions on Tuesday rocked a Russian air base in Crimea, a peninsula in the south. Russia illegally joined in 2014.. Satellite images show at least eight destroyed warplanes at the blast site.
Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility for the blasts, but a senior Ukrainian military official said the country’s special forces and local partisan resistance fighters loyal to the government were behind the attack.
With an offensive to retake territory in southern Ukraine, officials say Mr. Putin may have to move more troops there.
The Russian military has lost so many troops that in some cases units have tried to force captured Ukrainians to fight, according to retired General Philip M. Bradlow, who was NATO’s top coalition commander for Europe when Russia annexed Crimea.
“They have a tremendous manpower problem and an even more difficult problem is that the manpower they have is not well trained,” Gen. Breedlove said in an interview. “Their best units are already bloodied.”
Pentagon officials say it becomes difficult for Russian units to exert pressure when they sustain high casualty rates.