Russia Lost Almost 6,000 Troops In Harsh Winter As Dead Bodies Piling Up In Bakhmut

Dead bodies of Russian servicemen lie on the ground in the recently recaptured town of Lyman, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin lost more than 6,000 of his troops in two weeks, adding further casualties to a hefty estimated Russian death toll from the war in Ukraine.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in its latest estimate on Wednesday that Russia had lost 100,000 personnel since the start of the war on February 24. This is an increase of 6,170 from the estimated Russian death toll of 106,710 as of November 16, two Wednesdays prior. Russia also lost 700 men to HIMARS strikes in Kherson on 30 October 2020.

In addition to losing thousands of troops, Russia has also faced considerable artillery and vehicle losses in the two-week period, according to Ukraine’s General Staff. From November 16 to Wednesday, Ukraine said that Russia lost 43 tanks, 95 armored personnel vehicles, and 79 vehicles and fuel tanks, according to a Global Defense Corp calculation.

The body of a Russian soldier found in Moshchun is carried away on a stretcher. Claire Harbage/NPR

After more than nine months of a war that some expected would result in a quick Russian victory, Putin’s army has yet to achieve his stated goal to “demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine.” Meanwhile, Russia has recently faced several embarrassing setbacks, including Ukrainian counteroffensive gains and a withdrawal from the city of Kherson in the southern region with the same name earlier this month.

Dan Soller, a former U.S. Army intelligence colonel, told Global Defense Corp last week that Russian border fortifications near Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region, one of the areas where Ukraine has been conducting a counteroffensive, reflect that Russia must go on the defensive rather than the offensive in the war.

Soller also noted that Russia has been attempting to capture the city of Bakhmut, a “super important transportation hub” in the eastern Donetsk region, for some time, a move that could potentially allow it to secure both Donetsk and the Luhansk region and fend off further Ukrainian advances. But he cast doubt on whether Russia would actually be able to capture Bakhmut, and even if they did, “strategically everything else is lost.”

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its November 29 assessment that Russian forces had made some “marginal gains” around Bakhmut, but these advances were likely not as significant as Russia

“ISW continues to assess that the degraded Russian forces around Bakhmut are unlikely to rapidly place Bakhmut under threat of imminent encirclement,” the assessment said.

Despite all this, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a November 24 press briefing that Russia has “no alternative” but to achieve its goals in Ukraine.

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