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The Russian Military Is Suffering in Ukraine: 15,000 Dead Soldiers

Carl Gustaf Recoilless Rifle
Australian soldiers assigned to 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment fire an 84 mm M3 Carl Gustave rocket launcher at Range 10, Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2014, during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. (U.S. Marine photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan/Released).

CIA Director William Burns said on Wednesday that Russia had suffered significant losses in its invasion of Ukraine, with estimated losses of 15,000 troops killed and 45,000 wounded according to the latest U.S. intelligence assessments. 

Burns spoke at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado and said, “The latest estimates from the U.S. intelligence community would be something in the vicinity of 15,000 (Russian forces) killed and maybe three times that wounded. So a quite significant set of losses.

Ukrainians have suffered, as well — probably a little less than that, but … significant casualties.”

Burns conducted an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell that the numbers are “always a range” adding that “there is no perfect number.”

The Russians have kept their official losses a secret and have not updated their official death total of 1,351 troops since March 25. Public support for the “special military operation” remains high, but if the actual cost of the invasion were to come to light, then the support for the war could drop. 

Burns noted that after a disastrous start to the war in trying to overrun the entire country quickly, the Russians have adapted and, in doing so, are conducting a more “comfortable way of war,” adding that this new offensive allows them to use long-range weapons and avoid continued significant casualties after the heavy losses they suffered earlier in the invasion.

“The Russians and the Russian military have adapted,” Burns said. “One of my recent conversations with one of my Ukrainian counterparts, he pointed out that the dumb Russians are all dead.”

No Evidence of Putin’s Poor Health

Burns said that despite many reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been suffering from ill health, possibly cancer, as well as being possibly mentally unstable, there is no evidence or intelligence to support either allegation.

Burns even joked to the audience, “There are lots of rumors about President Putin’s health, and as far as we can tell, he’s entirely too healthy,” adding that it was “not a formal intelligence judgment.”

While reports earlier in the war speculated that Putin was acting erratic and irrational, his actions were in keeping with how he has always operated, Burns said. The former U.S. ambassador to Moscow has been dealing with Putin for more than two decades and said that Putin is a “big believer in control, intimidation, and getting even.

“He is convinced that his destiny as Russia’s leader is to restore Russia as a great power. He believes the key to doing that is to recreate a sphere of influence in Russia’s neighborhood, and he cannot do that without controlling Ukraine.”

Russia’s Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov also dismissed Western reports of poor health as fake. 

“In recent months, Ukrainian, American, and British so-called information ‘specialists’ have thrown around various fakes about the health of the president. But it is nothing but fakes,” Peskov told reporters earlier on Thursday. 

Russian Objectives Change to More Than the Donbas 

With the Russian invasion now close to entering its fifth month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow’s goals go beyond securing the Donbas in Ukraine’s east, adding that “the geography is different.” 

“It is far from being only DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic); it is also Kherson region, Zaporizhzhia region, and a number of other territories, and this process continues. It continues steadily and persistently,” Lavrov said during a Wednesday interview with RIA Novosti.

Lavrov said that the long-range weapons that the U.S. is supplying Ukraine with will continue to move the line west, as Russia claims its actions are the protection of its borders while persisting with the Nazi myth as justification for the war.

“We cannot allow any weapons in the part of Ukraine controlled by Zelensky or whoever will replace him that pose a direct threat to our territory or the territory of the republics that declared independence or those that wish to determine their future independently,” Lavrov said.

“The President was very clear, as you quoted: denazification and demilitarization in the sense that there should be no threat to our security, no military threat from Ukraine’s territory, and this objective remains,” Lavrov said.

Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

Written By

Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.



  1. gemstone

    July 21, 2022 at 11:15 pm

    The 15,000 dead and three times ratio for wounded would equate to 60,000 total. On the other hand the Ukrainian figure of Russian dead is 38,750, which equates to 155,000 dead and wounded.
    Recently the ukraine military found dead Russian troops with identification from a military outfit in the Kurile islands, North of japan. It seems highly unlikely that Russia would be pulling troops from the most distant part of Russia, if they had expended little more than 20% of their army in ukraine. If the ukraine figure of 155,000 is compared to the pre invasion army of 280,000 then 55% applies. However an additional 100,000 troops have been sent to ukraine so only 25,000 troops defend Russia’s borders.

  2. Fluffy Dog

    July 22, 2022 at 12:18 am

    Internal Russian sources, unofficial, talk about requests to the Russian DoD about some 40,000 missing personnel. That would be MIAs. But in reality they are most likely dead.
    15,000 are those who had been officially confirmed by the US observations.

  3. Paddy Manning

    July 22, 2022 at 2:59 pm

    15000 is a deliberate under estimation of the Russian death toll and we can postulate that by now the Ukkranian losses must just about equal the Russian.
    However Putin has two other problems. Army logistics are appalling and this is now compounded by Ukraine’s influx of long range smart weapons and his army has lost the momentum and is now stuck in a meat grinder against an enemy that is better organized, better armed and utterly implacable. The historical Russian propensity to fight wars by drowning enemies in Russian blood suffers a distinct disadvantage when the enemy can swim. His dangerous dream of European dominance (“Russia extends to Dublin”) is shattered, his now autarchic economy cannot efficiently produce the sort of weapons that any sort of victory and cost effective warfare requires and although he can inflict a winter of misery on Europe by turning off the gas that will not help him in the least.
    As a side issue Merkel and Obama now look the incompetent idiots they were (1980s called and want their foreign policy back anyone?).
    Trump for all his faults was right about European defence spending.

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