The number of Russian troops who have either died or were left wounded in the continuing war in Ukraine is nearing 200,000, according to a report that cited US and Western officials.
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that senior US officials and Western diplomats said the number has climbed above the 100,000 figure given in November last year.
In that month, General Mark A Milley, chairman of the US joint chief of staffs, gave the last public estimate provided by the Biden administration.
He said more than 100,000 troops on each side had been killed and wounded since the war began.
“I would say it’s significantly well over 100,000 now,” Mr Milley was quoted as saying at a news conference last month in Germany.
He added that the Russian toll included “regular military, and also their mercenaries in the Wagner Group”.
This week, senior US officials said they believed the number for Russia was closer to 200,000, according to the report.
On 22 January, General Eirik Kristoffersen, Norway ’s defence chief, said on Norewegian TV that estimates suggested 180,000 were either dead or wounded on Russia’s side, while the tally was 100,000, including 30,000 civilian deaths, for Ukraine.
Mr Kristofferson said to The New York Times over email that there is “much uncertainty regarding these numbers, as no one at the moment are able to give a good overview. They could be both lower or even higher.”
According to Colin H Kahl, the under secretary of defence for policy, the Russian military is running out of critical supplies and replenishment.
“They’re running low on artillery. They’re running low on standoff munitions, and they are substituting by sending convicts in human waves into places like Bakhmut and Soledar,” he was quoted as saying.
Russia’s war in Ukraine will complete a year on 24 February.
According to Kusti Salm, Estonia’s deputy defence minister, Russia was better able to stand its losses than Ukraine.
At a press briefing in Washington this week, he said: “In this particular area, the Russians have employed around 40,000 to 50,000 inmates or prisoners.”
“They are going up against regular soldiers, people with families, people with regular training, valuable people for the Ukrainian military.”
“So the exchange rate is unfair,” he added.
“It’s not one to one because for Russia, inmates are expendable. From an operational perspective, this is a very unfair deal for the Ukrainians and a clever tactical move from the Russian side.”
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