Approximately 15,000 Russian troops have died fighting in Ukraine and about 45,000 have been wounded in the nearly five months since Vladimir Putin launched the assault on his western neighbor, CIA Director William Burns said Wednesday.
“The latest estimates from the US intelligence community would be something in the vicinity of 15,000 killed and maybe three times that wounded,” Burns said in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. “So a quite significant set of losses.”
“And the Ukrainians have suffered as well,” Burns added. “Probably a little less than that, but, you know, significant casualties.”
On Thursday, MI6 chief Richard Moore echoed Burns’ assessment and added that 15,000 dead Russian service members was “probably a conservative estimate.”
“That is the same number, roughly, as they lost in 10 years in Afghanistan in the 1980s,” added Moore, who described Moscow’s military as made up of “poor kids from rural parts of Russia, they’re from blue-collar towns in Siberia, they are disproportionately from ethnic minorities, and these are [Putin’s] cannon fodder.”
Russia considers information about the number of war casualties a state secret and has not released updated information for months.
In March, the Kremlin said 1,351 troops had been killed in the fighting.
Ukraine’s government said last month that 200 of its soldiers are dying each day, but verifiable totals of Kyiv’s dead and wounded are nearly impossible to obtain.
Russia has concentrated its military operations on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine in recent months after an initial drive to take Kyiv was turned aside by Ukrainian forces.
However, Moscow Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Russia had expanded its military goals beyond the Donbas.
In Aspen, Burns said the Russians appeared to have learned a hard lesson from their earlier failures.
“In a way, what the Russian military has done is retreat to a more comfortable way of war, in a sense, by using their advantages and long-range firepower to stand off and effectively destroy Ukrainian targets and to compensate for the weaknesses in manpower that they still experience,” he said.
With Post wires