US politicians who attended a classified briefing on the war in Ukraine said Biden administration officials informed them that more than 75,000 Russians have been killed or wounded.
The briefing also said the Russian military is fatigued, but Ukrainians are looking for additional reinforcements as they aim to launch a counteroffensive in the south before the northern winter.
“We were briefed that over 75,000 Russians have either been killed or wounded, which is huge, you’ve got incredible amounts of investment in their land forces, over 80 per cent of their land forces are bogged down, and they’re tired,” Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and recently visited Ukraine, said.
“But they’re still the Russian military.”
US and Western officials have said in recent weeks that the next few weeks of war will be crucial, because the Ukrainians are going to try to mount a major counteroffensive in the south.
Richard Moore, the head of the UK’s secret intelligence service, MI6, said last week at the Aspen Security Forum in the US that he believes the Russians will begin to lose steam in the coming weeks because they are running out of manpower.
US and western officials believe Ukraine will aim to take back the southern city of Kherson, which has been occupied by Russia since March.
“The sort of main conversation in the briefing was, you know, what more we can and should be doing for the Ukrainians, literally in the next three to six weeks, very urgently. Ukrainians want to go to the south and do operations in the south. And we want them to be as successful as possible,” Slotkin said.
“I think that what we heard very firmly from President Zelensky and reinforced today is that the Ukrainians really want to hit Russia in the teeth a few times before the winter comes, put them in the best position possible, particularly hitting them down south,” Slotkin added.
During the briefing, Slotkin said there was bipartisan support for sending Ukraine long-range missiles, known as ATACMS, that can strike as far as more than 280km.
The Ukrainians have been urging the US to provide these systems for months because the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) can only strike distances of around 80km.
But US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated last week at the Aspen Security Forum that the US would not be providing the ATACMS because they could be used to strike into Russian territory, which would escalate the war even further.
The US Senate will also get its own briefing on Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops used American-supplied precision rocket launchers to knock out a strategic bridge used by Russia to supply its forces in southern Ukraine’s occupied Kherson region, officials said on Wednesday.
Ukraine also claimed to have destroyed an enemy ammunition depot, artillery pieces and other military equipment in the region, killing 51 members of the Russian army.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Russian side.
In other news, the Biden administration has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year US prison sentence, as part of a potential deal to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
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