The Russian invasion forces in Ukraine have sustained between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties in five months of fighting since Feb. 24, according to a new Pentagon assessment.
During a Monday press briefing, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl shared an estimate of between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties since they launched their invasion of Ukraine at the end of February. Kahl clarified that the figure he offered is a combination of Russian troops killed or wounded.
“The Russians are taking a tremendous number of casualties on the other side of the equation,” Kahl said.
Kahl said the estimate of 70,000 to 80,000 Russian casualties may be “a little lower or a little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark.”
Kahl did not say how many of the estimated Russian casualties were Russian troops killed and how many were simply wounded. He also did not specify if the casualty estimates were just of uniformed Russian forces or if that number included pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists, pro-Russian mercenary forces and foreign fighters.
Exact casualty assessments from the war in Ukraine are difficult to confirm. During his Monday remarks, Kahl stipulated that precise figures are hard to confirm.
“There’s a lot of fog in war,” Kahl said. “But, you know, I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months.”
As of Monday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed the Russian casualties include 42,340 “eliminated personnel” – a term seeming to describe Russian troops killed.
One of the factors complicating the ability to confirm exact losses in the ongoing fighting is the fact that neither Ukraine or Russia are providing up-to-date casualty assessments from their own side.
Kahl also did not provide an estimate of casualties from the Ukrainian side of the fighting during his remarks on Monday.
“I think the numbers of casualties have gone up and down,” Kahl said of the Ukrainian side. “I can’t speak to the veracity of those particular numbers.”
Kahl said the Ukrainian side does benefit from a stronger will to keep fighting.
“The Ukrainian morale and will to fight is unquestioned and much higher, I think, than the average morale and will to fight on the Russian side,” he said. “So I think that gives the Ukrainians a significant advantage.”
Kahl said the U.S. military’s estimate of Russian casualties from the ongoing invasion is “pretty remarkable, considering that the Russians have achieved none of the — of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] objectives at the beginning of the war.”
Kahl said Putin’s overall objective at the start of the war was to “overrun the entire country, to engage in regime change in Kiev, snuff out Ukraine as an independent, sovereign and democratic nation.” Of those objectives, Kahl said, “None of that has happened.”
Kahl said Russia’s initial assault on the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev was “completely thwarted and rolled back by the Ukrainians.” Kahl noted the Russian forces shifted their focus to Ukraine’s east and since “have made some incremental gains in the east, although not very much in the last couple weeks.”
The gains Russian forces have made have also “come at extraordinary costs” Kahl said.