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Putin’s Ukraine Nightmare: Russia Might Have 80,000 Dead or Wounded Soldiers

Russian artillery firing in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Pentagon Says 80,000 Russian Forces Killed Or Wounded – Speaking to reporters on Monday, U.S. Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Colin Kahl revealed how as many as 80,000 Russian soldiers are understood to have been killed or wounded in the conflict in Ukraine so far. Kahl, one of the highest-ranking officials in the Pentagon, said that the number of soldiers is “remarkable” given that “Russia has achieved none of Vladimir Putin’s objectives in Ukraine.”

Russia’s objective, Kahl said, was to “overrun the entire country to engage in regime change in Kyiv, to snuff out Ukraine as an independent sovereign and democratic nation.”

80,000 wounded or killed troops is also significant as an estimated 150,000 Russian troops were positioned along the Russia-Ukraine border before the outbreak of the war in February. That means more than half of the soldiers who were expected to launch the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine and take over the country in a matter of weeks are no longer on the battlefield.

The announcement is the first time that the United States government or military has announced official estimates of the number of Russian troops wounded or killed on the battlefield. It comes less than a fortnight after Rep. Elissa Slotkin told CNN how legislators were briefed by U.S. officials that an estimated 75,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded.

Has Putin Really Achieved Nothing?

While it’s true to say that the Kremlin has not achieved its stated goal of demilitarizing Ukraine, or even taking full control over Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, it’s possible that Kahl’s comments were purposely provocative.

Despite the heavy losses, Russia has achieved something. After conquering all major cities and population centers in Luhansk, Russian soldiers are now working to conquer Donetsk to the south – a mission complicated by Ukraine’s effective use of U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket systems, but one that remains underway regardless.

Late last week, Russian forces launched a new assault on key cities in the Donetsk region, launching a series of deadly rocket attacks in Avdiivka and Bakhmut.

M777 Artillery Like in Ukraine

Soldiers, with team Deadpool, B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, Division Artillery, 1st Armored Division, fire a M777 Howitzer, during the Two Gun Raid September 20 at Oro Grande Range Complex, N.M. 2-3 FA conducts the Two Gun Raid and table VI qualification annually. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Michael Eaddy). This is similar to the artillery engaged in Ukraine.

“In the Donetsk direction, the enemy is conducting an offensive operation, concentrating its main efforts on the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions. It uses ground attack and army aviation,” the Ukrainian General Staff noted on Facebook.

Russian troops are also working to take control of the city of Sloviansk, also in the Donetsk region, and appear willing to strike residential buildings and infrastructure to achieve it. While the fight has been longer, bloodier, and harder to achieve than Vladimir Putin expected, Russia has made some gains in Ukraine and the war appears to be far from over.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.