Russian forces continue to make inroads in southern Ukraine, but few military experts seem to think the war is going very well for Russia. The invading army has suffered “very, very significant casualties,” a U.S. official told CBS News on Wednesday, putting the U.S. estimate at between 5,000 and 6,000 Russian troops killed in action. That’s comparable to losses in World War II battles, the U.S. official said. It’s also, as Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich notes, “more than the number of Americans killed during the Iraq War.”
The U.S. estimate is about halfway between the 500 Russian casualties Moscow claims and the 12,000 Russian deaths claimed by Ukraine. The U.S. intelligence estimate also puts Ukraine’s casualties at 2,000 to 4,000 killed troops plus hundreds or thousands of slain civilians.
Ukrainian forces continue to destroy a stalled 40-mile-long Russian military convoy north of Kyiv, and the “unexpected effectiveness” of Ukraine’s air defenses has curtailed Russian air activity, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said early Thursday, in its latest public intelligence assessment. And as Russian casualties mount, including among conscripted troops, Russian President Vladimir Putin “will be forced to draw from across the Russian Armed Forces and other sources to replace his losses.”
Putin planned his “disastrous” Ukraine war “in high secrecy in order to avoid leaks,” and his risk-reward analysis was skewed by a lack contingency planning from his tiny circle of generals, misplaced optimism in Russia’s sanctions-proofing, and the surprisingly “deplorable state of Russian expertise on Ukraine,” Russia expert Alexander Gabuev at the Carnegie Moscow Center tweeted Wednesday. The result is “a tragedy for Ukraine, and a catastrophe for Russia.”
“Putin truly believed people would greet (Russians) with flowers. Instead, they were met with Molotov cocktails,” Ukrainian diplomat Volodomyr Shalkivskyi said at Australia’s National Press Club on Thursday. “Russian soldiers going into Ukraine did not have extra ammo or food in their packs. They did however have a parade uniform for a Russian victory parade through Kyiv,” he added. “You cannot win a war against a free people determined to fight for their freedom. There is no way we will give up.”