Casualties among Russian and pro-Russian forces are mounting at an unsustainable rate in Ukraine, British intelligence reports, raising more questions about the extent to which Moscow can maintain its current pace of operations amid limited progress on the battlefield.
Figures published last week by the Donetsk People’s Republic, part of the self-declared pro-Putin autonomous region in eastern Ukraine known as the Donbas, claimed that more than 2,100 of its forces had died since operations began and nearly 9,000 had been wounded.
The casualty rate equals roughly 55% of its total force, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense, “which highlights the extraordinary attrition rate Russian and pro-Russian forces are suffering in the Donbas.”
The losses of men and material have come at a staggering rate since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began Feb. 24 and immediately encountered a stiff resistance from local forces backed with Western munitions and financial resources. The number of Russian deaths are a closely guarded secret. Moscow in March placed the death toll at 1,351, but even then there was reason to believe it was far higher. A British estimate in April put the number around 15,000 – more than were killed in the Soviet Union’s nine-year war in Afghanistan – while other estimates project that as many as 40,000 have been injured.