It reflects how Moscow’s hopes of rapid victory gave way to a brutal war of attrition that carries a huge cost.
Coupled with previous estimates by other U.S. officials it could put the total number of Russian casualties at 200,000 since Moscow invaded last year.
John Kirby, White House security spokesman, said Russia’s attempt at an offensive in the eastern Donbas region, through the city of Bakhmut, had largely failed.
‘For Russia this attempted effort, particularly in Bakhmut, has come at a terribly, terribly high cost,’ he told reporters.
John Kirby, White House security spokesman, said Russia’s attempt at an offensive in the eastern Donbas region, through the city of Bakhmut, had largely failed
Police are seen at the site of a residential area hit by a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the town of Pavlohrad, Dnipropetrovsk region
‘Russia has exhausted its military stockpiles and its armed forces and since December alone … we estimate Russia has suffered more than 100,000 casualties, including over 20,000 Killed in action, nearly half of whom were Wagner soldiers, the majority of whom were Russian convicts that were thrown into combat… [without] sufficient combat training, combat leadership, or any sense of organisational command and control.’
He said the information was based on newly declassified intelligence but did not offer further details.
Wagner is a Russian paramilitary force that is providing the backbone for the Russian military in some areas.
At the weekend, its leader said he may be forced to withdraw from Bakhmut amid mounting casualties, and said he had appealed to Moscow for more ammunition.
‘Every day we have stacks of thousands of bodies that we put in coffins and send home,’ Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview with a Russian military blogger.
The new casualty estimates suggests Russian losses have accelerated in recent months.
Last November, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. believed Russian had suffered 100,000 troops killed or wounded in the first eight months of the fighting.
A Ukrainian soldier fires an RPG during his training at the frontline positions near Vuhledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, May 1, 2023
The White House has frequently highlighted the cost to Russia of the ongoing war. And in recent weeks has returned to the price it was paying to take control of Bakhmut, which it says comes with limited strategic value to the overall course of the war.
In the briefing call with reporters, Kirby compared the toll with in some of the most bitter fighting of World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front, and the Guadalcanal campaign, the first major Allied offensive against Japan.
But he refused to say how many Ukrainian troops have been killed or wounded in the fighting.
‘I’m simply not going to put information in the public domain that’s going to make it any harder for for the Ukrainians,’ he said.
‘If they decide they want to declassify and make public their casualty figures that’s up to them to do.
‘But I don’t need to abide by that same sense of courtesy for the Russians.’
Milley said in November that Ukrainian casualties were probably also about 100,000.