Russia Has Suffered Staggeringly High Losses, U.S. Report Says

The declassified intelligence assessment also found that Russia’s objective has been eroding Western support for Ukraine, the country it invaded.

Helmeted soldiers carrying rifles, bags and other equipment as they walk along a road in Ukraine.
Soldiers preparing to head to the front line last month near Ocheretyne, Ukraine.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

The Russian push in eastern Ukraine this fall and winter was designed to sap Western support for Ukraine, according to a newly declassified American intelligence assessment.

The drive has resulted in heavy losses but has not led to strategic gains on the battlefield for Russia, said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

Since the beginning of the war Russia has suffered from a staggeringly high number of losses, according to another newly declassified assessment shared with Congress. At the start of the war the Russian army stood at 360,000 troops. Russia has lost 315,000 of those troops, forcing them to recruit and mobilize new recruits and convicts from their prison system.

Moscow’s equipment has also been crushed, according to the assessment. At the start of the war, Russia had 3,500 tanks but has lost 2,200, forcing them to pull 50 year old T-62 tanks from storage.

The assessment says the Russian losses have reduced the complexity of Russia’s recent military operations in Ukraine.

“The war in Ukraine has sharply set back 15 years of Russian effort to modernize its ground force,” the declassified assessment said. “As of late November, Russia had lost over a quarter of its pre-2022 stockpile of ground forces equipment and has suffered casualties among its trained professional army.”

In the most recent push, Russia has suffered more than 13,000 people killed and wounded and lost more than 220 combat vehicles while fighting near Avdiivka and other cities, Ms. Watson said.

Russian forces had hoped for a swift breakthrough but encountered stiff Ukrainian resistance. Ukraine has moved forces from the south to reinforce its troops in the east. While Ukraine too has suffered causalities, its losses are not as significant as Russia’s, U.S. officials have said. Casualty figures on both sides of the conflict are estimates, according to American officials. Moscow is believed to routinely undercount its war dead and injured, and Kyiv does not disclose official figures.

The information was declassified as President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine visits Washington to help press the case that his country needs more American aid to help defend against the continued assault.

The White House is asking for $50 billion in additional security aid for Ukraine. But many conservative Republicans are skeptical about the country’s ability to win the war and want major changes in U.S. border security policy as part of a funding agreement.

Ms. Watson said the push by Russia is related to the funding debates in Congress. The declassified intelligence assessed that Russia “seems to believe that a military deadlock through the winter will drain Western support for Ukraine,” Ms. Watson said.

Russia, Ms. Watson said, continues to have shortages of soldiers and weaponry but is pushing in Eastern Ukraine despite its losses with hope of gaining an advantage.

Russia is closely tracking the debate in Congress, Ms. Watson said. Other U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports agreed and said President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia believes he is beginning to see success in his strategy of trying to out wait the West.

Julian E. Barnes covers the U.S. intelligence agencies and international security matters for The Times. He has written about security issues for more than two decades. More about Julian E. Barnes

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