Up to 180,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded since the start of the war in Ukraine, military chiefs have claimed.
The estimate from the Norwegian army is far higher than previously thought.
Top US general Mark Milley suggested the toll was around 100,000 last November. It is unclear how many troops Ukraine has lost since the country was invaded on February 24, 2022. Both sides have a policy of not disclosing losses.
Vladimir Putin’s army is currently making a desperate bid to seize territory before more than 300 Western tanks reach the war zone in Ukraine.
Up to 180,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded since the start of the war in Ukraine, military chiefs have claimed
Top US general Mark Milley suggested the Russian army toll was around 100,000 last November
Western officials said Russia was attempting to replace lost troops with hundreds of thousands of reservists and a partial mobilisation of civilians, including convicts. They admitted Russia was making ‘creeping gains’ in eastern Ukraine but insisted Kremlin forces are not large enough to make a strategic breakthrough.
Putin’s partial mobilisation has ‘semi-stabilised’ Russia’s frontline, which is making progress again after months of retreats and stalling.
An official said: ‘Russia has achieved some tactical successes but this is a “sideshow of a sideshow”. Russia has greater mass [than Ukraine] but it is unlikely the reservists brought to the frontline have formed into cohesive groups. Russia is attempting to gain momentum but its forces are falling short of the strategic tasks set for them.’
The official predicted that the ‘grinding conflict’ is likely to continue through this year.
On the influx of Western tanks, they said: ‘Russia is aware of timescales.’ Ukraine is on a defensive footing at the moment as it waits for the tanks.
Vladimir Putin’s army is currently making a desperate bid to seize territory before more than 300 Western tanks reach the war zone in Ukraine
THE EUROVISION HANDOVER
This year’s Eurovision is set to be ‘the best show ever’ as Ukraine thanked Britain for stepping in to host the contest.
Liverpool became 2023’s official host city at a handover ceremony yesterday – less than four months before the competition takes place.
Organisers had to move the event from last year’s winner Ukraine due to the war. Yesterday Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said he was ‘thankful’ for the support and hoped the contest will be remembered ‘as a great cultural event’.
Mykola Chernotytskyi, from the Ukrainian state broadcaster, added: ‘You feel the emotion so much… I hope it will be the best show ever.’
Most will be German-made Leopard 2s following a landmark decision by Berlin to send tanks and lift export restrictions affecting Nato allies.
Other tanks include 14 Challenger 2s from Britain and 31 M1 Abrams from the US.
Ukrainian crews started training in the UK this week. The troops, accompanied by the British tanks, will return to the country in late March. They are already skilled tank drivers but must adapt to the specific requirements of the Challenger 2.
In recent weeks Russian forces have captured towns in Donetsk province. Their aim is to secure the strategically significant city of Bakhmut.
Before the invasion it had a population of 70,000. But civilians have fled from the city as Russian forces have closed in.
Ukraine may be required to withdraw from Bakhmut – a move which would represent a major blow to the country’s morale.
A Western official said: ‘Bakhmut is totemic in the public narrative, which puts both sides under pressure. But military judgment will have to be exercised.
‘We are not going to speculate on the outcome. In the past Ukraine has been wise in choosing timing of withdrawals when they redrew their defensive lines. There will be exchanges of territory and the conflict is not going to end soon.’