Russian military

April 26, 2022

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Parliament on Monday that about 15,000 Russian troops have died in Ukraine since the Kremlin invaded on Feb. 24, and about a quarter of the 120 battalion tactical groups Moscow committed to its invasion "have been rendered not combat effective." Russia has also lost about 2,000 tanks and other armored vehicles, and more than 60 helicopters and fighter jets, Wallace added. "Russia has so far failed in nearly every one of its objectives." The estimate from British intelligence is in line with numbers published by the pro-Kremlin media outlet Readovka, citing a "closed briefing" from Russia's Defense Ministry. In its report, since blamed on a hack, Readovka said Russia has lost 13,414 soldiers in Ukraine, 7,000 more are missing, and 116 sailors were killed up on the sunken Black Sea flagship Moskva.  "The Russian Ministry of Defense hides losses," tweeted Sergey Smirnov, editor-in-chief of the independent Russian media site Mediazona, but "we found out exactly who is dying in this war on the part of Russia," including "a lot of officers." Mediazona based its numbers on 1,744 military deaths confirmed by the pro-Kremlin press, relatives of slain soldiers, local authorities, or educational institutions.  "At least 500 soldiers of the most combat-ready units — paratroopers, marines, and special forces — were killed," Mediazona reports. "More than 300 officers were killed. Among them are two major generals and the deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet," Capt. Andrei Paly, plus more than 70 National Guardsmen, 20 airplane pilots, and seven helicopter pilots. Ukraine has claimed that three other major generals and at least two lieutenant generals were killed, Mediazona adds, but it couldn't confirm those deaths and did not count them in its tally.

April 1, 2022

Russia is redeploying 1,200 to 2,000 troops from Russian-occupied Georgia and reorganizing them into three tactical battle groups "to reinforce its invasion of Ukraine," Britain's Ministry of Defense said Thursday evening, its latest intelligence update. "It is highly unlikely that Russia planned to generate reinforcements in this manner and it is indicative of the unexpected losses it has sustained during the invasion."  Russia has stationed its forces in parts of the former Soviet republic since invading it in 2008. Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier Thursday signed a decree ordering that 134,500 Russian men age 18 to 27 be conscripted into the Russian army as part of its annual spring draft, but Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu suggested none of them will be sent to Ukraine. "Most military personnel will undergo professional training in training centers for three to five months," he said in remarks published Tuesday. "Let me emphasize that recruits will not be sent to any hot spots." Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer representing Russian National Guard members who refused orders to go to Ukraine, told Reuters that under Russian law, these conscripts could actually be sent to fight after several months of training.  The issue of sending conscripts to war is politically fraught in Russia. Putin claimed in the beginning of March that no conscripts were "participating in hostilities" in Ukraine, but the Defense Ministry said that in fact there were conscripts in Ukraine and some had been taken prisoner by Ukraine, prompting Putin to order military prosecutors to find and charge the officials who had deployed the conscripts against purported orders.  "The Russians need more soldiers," since "their invasion plan with over 55 percent of Russian ground forces has placed them in a very difficult spot," retired Australian Army Maj. Gen. Mick Ryan tweeted Thursday. But even if Putin does intend to deploy the conscripts, that "will be of little assistance. It takes time to train soldiers." Western intelligence assesses that at least 1,000 private soldiers from the Wagner Group have already been deployed in eastern Ukraine, but Ryan said none of this will save Russia from its early miscalculations. "They will obviously use mercenaries, and second- or third-rate forces from elsewhere (such as Georgia). We should not expect their military effectiveness to be any better than the 'theoretically elite' formations which crossed into Ukraine on 24 February."

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