Ukrainian commander reveals true scale of losses – and pays the price

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Ukraine has demoted a top battlefield commander after he admitted his unit had been decimated in fighting around the city of Bakhmut.

The battalion commander, known by his call sign Kupol, gave an unusually frank assessment of Ukrainian losses in an interview from the front lines earlier this week.

He revealed that all of the original 500 soldiers in his unit had either been killed or injured, a rare acknowledgement from inside the Ukrainian ranks, where losses are kept strictly confidential.

The Ukrainian high command is at pains to present a positive spin on the increasingly bloody defence of the east of the country. US officials have estimated that the Ukrainian army may have taken 120,000 casualties compared with 200,000 by the Russian army.

Kupol told the Washington Post this week that the Ukrainian army training was often poor and that some of the rookie replacements didn’t know how to throw a hand grenade or fire a rifle.