US intelligence claims Russia has suffered a staggering 188,000 casualties in Ukraine and lost more than 2,000 tanks since Putin’s bloody invasion began less than a year ago
- Ukraine is bracing for a three-pronged attack from Russia within weeks
- This is a significant increase to the estimated figure of 100,000 soldiers
- Russia last week took Soledar, a mining town in the Donbas, in a bitter campaign
US intelligence has claimed that Russian casualties in Ukraine have reached a staggering 188,000.
This figure is a significant increase to the estimation of 100,000 Russian soldiers who were wounded, deserted and killed which was outlined by UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace at the end of 2022.
It is also thought that the Ukrainians have captured or destroyed approximately 2,000 Russian tanks since the invasion, which happened less than a year ago.
A woman walks by destroyed buildings in the mining town of Toretsk, which is situated under 20 miles from the front lines of fighting near Bakhmut
Ukraine has appealed to its allies for more tanks to assist in its defence of the Donbas region
US General Mark Milley told The Sun, who obtained the figures, that Russia has suffered a ‘tremendous amount of casualties’.
Russia has claimed to have captured a small village just five miles away from the major city of Bakhmut after months of fighting in a ‘meat-grinder’ offensive designed to push further in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the village of Klishchiivka, which is located nine kilometers south of Bakhmut, had been ‘liberated.’
The claim couldn’t be independently verified, and Ukrainian officials made no immediate comment on the claim.
It comes as Ukraine is bracing itself for a major Russian offensive within weeks as Vladimir Putin bids to turn the tide of the war with a devastating three-pronged assault.
Taking Klishchiivka would be only a minor breakthrough, but the Kremlin is hungry for good news from the battlefield after months of setbacks.
It follows Ukrainian troops’ withdrawal from Soledar, a mining town which has seen some of the most intense fighting of the war.
The town has been attacked for months on end by Russia’s infamous Wagner group, which has reportedly seen extremely heavy losses and has seen a massive recruitment drive among serious criminals stuck in Russian prisons.
Russia first claimed to have taken Soledar a week ago, but this was heavily contested by Ukrainian officials who said fighting remained ongoing in the area until admitting its troops withdrew yesterday.
It was the first tangible territory victory for Russia in months as Putin continues his attempts to capture the Donbas region, with Bakhmut representing an opportunity to Russia to disrupt Ukrainian supply lines in the east and threaten other Ukrainian-held cities in the surrounding Donestk region.
Key infrastructure near to Bakhmut has been destroyed by months of intense fighting, including bridges and roads
Craters litter the towns and villages on the outskirts of Bakhmut following Russian missile attacks on Friday
Civilians, including many elderly citizens are being evacuated by the members of the Ukrainian emergency services from Bakhmut on Friday
Many settlements in the Donbas region have been all but completely destroyed by fighting and Russian shelling
Stretchers are pictured outside a military hospital just a few miles away from the Russian front line
Ukrainian troops have been pictured helping elderly and vulnerable residents evacuate from the city in anticipation of the fighting arriving there.
However, US officials have begun to nudge the Ukrainians to shift focus away from Bakhmut and focus on preparation for an offensive in the south, according to an official familiar with the views of President Joe Biden’s administration.
The US is said to believe there is a high potential for the Russians to eventually push Ukrainian forces out of Bakhmut amid some of the war’s most intense fighting to date.
The war has been largely static during the winter months, according to military analysts, except for some hot spots like Bakhmut and Soledar, a nearby salt mining town.
The Kremlin’s forces have kept up their long-distance shelling of Ukrainian targets, hitting key infrastructure and civilian areas, while probing Ukrainian defenses in the east.
An advisor to Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed Kyiv is anticipating an three-pronged attack from the north in Belarus, from Russian strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, and in the south from the Crimean peninsula.
If successful, Moscow’s troops would encircle the defending forces in the pincer movement which would drive back Ukraine after a series of advances in recent months.
It follows a helicopter crash on Wednesday which killed at least 18 people, including Ukraine’s Interior Minister.
The Ukrainian government chopper came down outside Kyiv next to a nursery full of children, killing all nine passengers onboard – including Ukraine’s interior minister Denys Monastyrsky, his first deputy Yevhen Yenin and state secretary Yurii Lubkovych – and a further nine on the ground.
US officials say Ukraine are planning on launching their own offensive against Russia after a stagnant winter, but have urged them to hold off until spring once they have received more weaponry.
The anticipated three-pronged attack would see Russian forces advance from Belarus in the north, the Donbas in the east, and Crimea in the south
A map shows the eastern region of Ukraine along the Russian border, and the areas currently occupied by invading Russian forces. Soledar and Bakhmut sit on the frontlines
Many towns and villages around Bakhmut have lost all access to running water and electricity
Debris is pictured in a building in Druzhkovka, in the Donbas, after a Russian artillery strike on Friday
A Ukrainian tank is pictured on the outskirts of Bakhmut on Friday as the city prepares for a Russian offensive
People collect wood to sell from a building destroyed by Russian artillery as they face a daily barrage of attacks in Bakhmut
US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley expressed strong doubt on Friday that Ukraine would succeed in driving Russian troops out its territory this year.
At a US-hosted meeting on Ukraine in Germany, Milley told reporters: ‘From a military standpoint I still maintain that for this year it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from all, every inch of… Russian-occupied Ukraine.’
Kyiv officials are preparing for the onslaught after winter brought a halt to the rapid change of territory control.
The Ukrainian presidential office said at least five civilians were killed between Thursday and Friday mornings, and six others were wounded as Russian forces shelled seven provinces in the country’s south and east.
Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks near a number of settlements in Donetsk and the neighboring Luhansk region, the General Staff of the Ukraine’s armed forces said today.
The two provinces together make up the Donbas, an industrial heartland that borders Russia where pro-Moscow separatists have fought for almost nine years.
John Lough, an associate fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Chatham House think tank in London, said the Ukraine battlefield situation is ‘inconclusive,’ with a renewed Russian push expected in the spring.
The war is ‘quite delicately poised,’ he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded with Western allies to send tanks that would help punch through Russian lines.
Defense leaders from nearly 50 countries discussed that possibility at a meeting in Germany on Friday, but no decision was made, according to Poland’s defense minister.
Marina Miron, of the Defense Studies Department at King’s College London, said tanks are useful, but a number of factors need to be taken into account, including how many will be sent and when, what condition they are in, and how Ukrainian crews will be trained and keep the vehicles supplied.
Giving the tanks would be ‘more of a political gesture’ than something that will change the complexion of the war, Miron said.
Ukraine says it needs at least 300 tanks to keep Russia from advancing in the Donbas and Zaporizhzhia province, as well as for a possible counteroffensive in the country’s southeast, analysts say.
‘The war of resources has begun,’ Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.
‘It is becoming apparent that Ukraine’s successes in the war with Russia will depend directly on the willingness and readiness of Western countries to supply not only defensive weapons to Kyiv, but also powerful offensive weapons, including modern tanks and planes.’
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