U.S. says 20,000+ Russians Killed in Ukraine Since December 

May 1, 2023

The United States National Security Council said Monday that more than 20,000 Russians have been killed in the Ukraine War since December, and another 100,000 Russians have been wounded.

NSC spokesperson John Kirby said those totals were based on newly-declassified U.S. intelligence, though he did not explain how the intel community had derived those numbers. 

In November Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Russians had suffered well over 100,000 troops killed or wounded between the start of its invasion on February 24, 2022 and December. This would suggest that the new estimates, from December to April, mark a dramatic increase in the rate of Russian losses. 

Kirby said nearly half those killed since December were soldiers hired by the Russian mercenary organization, the Wagner Group. He noted that many of them were convicts released from prison to join Russia’s fight. 

Wagner forces were “thrown into combat and without sufficient combat or combat training, combat leadership, or any sense of organizational command and control,” said Kirby.

The latest Russian casualty counts come as the fighting has ground into a war of attrition, with the fiercest battles raging in the eastern Donetsk region as Russia struggles to capture the city of Bakhmut from doggedly determined Ukrainian defenders. 

Fighting in “this little town of Bakhmut” has been comparable to some of the fiercest battles of World War II, according to Kirby, who mentioned the Battle of the Bulge and Guadalcanal in comparison.

Meanwhile, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the head of Ukrainian ground forces, said Russia had so far failed in its “maximum effort” to take Bakhmut.

Kirby declined to say how many Ukrainian troops have been killed or wounded in the fighting. However, Milley said in November that Ukraine’s casualty count was probably also at about 100,000. 

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