Heavy Losses Leave Russia Short of Its Goal, U.S. Officials Say

WASHINGTON — The shockingly high death rate of Russians in Ukraine means that President Vladimir V. Putin may not achieve one of his main war goals: capturing the country’s entire eastern region this year, say Biden administration officials and military experts.

According to the latest estimates by US intelligence and military officials, 500 Russian soldiers are killed or wounded every day. Russia’s war effort Officials said.

Russia’s eastern glaciation has further stalled with the arrival of American multiple-launch rocket systemThat has allowed Ukrainian forces to retake some territory and made it more difficult for Russian troops to reach other areas.

Earlier this summer, Russian forces seized Ukraine’s Luhansk region, which is in the eastern part of the country. But in neighboring Donetsk, their progress has stalled, with heavy casualties, US military officials said.

“I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians may have killed 70 or 80,000 people in less than six months,” Colin Kahl, the defense secretary for policy, told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday, referring to deaths and injuries.

“They’ve made some incremental gains in the east, although not by much in the last few weeks, but how well the Ukrainian military has done and all the help the Ukrainian military has provided has cost the Russians tremendously. Got it.”

Two U.S. officials said the Russian loss estimate included about 20,000 deaths. 5,000 of them are believed to be mercenaries Wagner groupA private force and foreign military with ties to Mr. Putin, an official said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss sensitive military assessments.

US officials say their casualty estimates are based on satellite imagery, communications intercepts, social media and on-the-ground media reports.

The Russian government classifies military deaths as a state secret, and the country’s war dead are rarely mentioned on state television. Russia released the official figure in March, when it said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed in the war. At the time, US officials estimated the number to be closer to 5,000.

Officials say there have also been large casualties in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government is reluctant to disclose figures but has said between 100 and 200 troops are being killed every day.

With Ukraine at war with Russian separatists for nearly a decade, there is a large pool of veterans available for that battle. Still, US officials say the conflict has become Europe’s bloodiest land war since World War II.

But for Russia, high casualty numbers mean slow progress. The result, Mr. Kahl said, is that “the situation in the east has essentially stabilized” and Russia has been forced to redeploy its forces to the south, as Ukraine intensifies its campaign to retake territory there.

Mr. Putin has also increased his numbers with ex-soldiers. But the effectiveness of combat zone arrivals is “very poor,” a senior defense official told reporters last month.

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Seth G., director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Russian military is severely depleted,” Jones said. “It affects their ability to fight an effective ground campaign in Ukraine.”

As Russian forces continue to suffer heavy casualties, American and European officials say they have struggled to bring reserves and new recruits into the fight.

Defense officials say Russia has already committed nearly 85 percent of its forces to the war, deploying forces in the country’s Far East and around the world. Before the invasion of Ukraine in February, the Russian military had about 900,000 active-duty troops.

“The Russians don’t have an effective enough fighting force to completely take over Donetsk,” Mr. Jones said in an interview.

Moscow has also recruited Chechen troops and fighters from Syria, whose president is allied with Mr Putin. By relying on these fighters, officials said, Mr. Putin has avoided domestic outcry over casualties and a general mobilization that has so far been akin to a draft.

“They raised the recruitment age in Russia and did other things to sweeten the pot for volunteers,” said Evelyn Farkas, director of the McCain Institute and senior Pentagon official for Ukraine in the Obama administration. “They’re pulling people from everywhere.”

But Ms Farkas added: “Unless they have massive mobilization, which I don’t see them being able to do politically at this stage, they are going to lose.”

After capturing Luhansk, Russia said it was pausing its campaign in the east to reorganize and rearm. But he continued to shell towns and cities in the region and his troops continued to fight. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces invaded towns in Donetsk and retook land there.

As fighting intensified in southern Ukraine, a series of explosions on Tuesday rocked a Russian air base in the southern peninsula of Crimea. In 2014, Russia added illegally. Satellite images show at least eight wrecked warplanes at the blast site.

Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility for the blasts, but a senior Ukrainian military official said the country’s special forces and local partisan resistance fighters were behind the attack.

As Ukraine launches an offensive to retake the southern region, officials say Mr. Putin may have to move more troops there.

The Russian military has lost so many troops that in some cases units have tried to force captured Ukrainians to fight, said retired General Philip M., who was NATO’s top allied commander for Europe when Russia annexed Crimea. According to Breedlove.

“They have a huge manpower problem, and an even harder problem is that the manpower they have is not trained,” Gen. Breedlove said in an interview. “Their best units are already bloodied.”

Pentagon officials say it is difficult to suppress Russian units when they sustain high casualty rates.

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