Russia’s military has suffered roughly 70,000 to 80,000 casualties since it first attacked Ukraine in late February, the Pentagon’s top policy official said Monday.
“The Russians are taking a tremendous number of casualties,” Colin Kahl, Defense Department under secretary for policy, told reporters.
“There’s a lot of fog in war but I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in the less than six months. Now, that is a combination of killed in action and wounded in action and that number might be a little lower, a little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark,” Kahl said.
Burns admitted, however, that intelligence estimates of battlefield casualties are “always a range,” and “there’s no perfect number.”
Russia likely accrued the bulk of its casualties in the first phase of its invasion, when it attempted but failed to take Kyiv and western areas of Ukraine beginning Feb. 24. Kremlin forces have since realigned to focus on the industrial heartland in Ukraine’s east, known as the Donbas, using long-range weapons to strike targets.
Kahl said that number of Russian casualties is “remarkable” given that Moscow has “achieved none of Vladimir Putin’s objectives” since invading Ukraine six months ago.
He attributed the stark numbers to Ukrainian morale and will to fight, which he said is “unquestioned, and much higher, I think, than the average morale and will to fight on the Russian side.”
“I think that gives the Ukrainians a significant advantage,” Kahl added.