More than 75,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured during the war in Ukraine, Biden administration officials told US lawmakers in a classified briefing on Wednesday.
“We have been informed that over 75,000 Russians have been killed or injured, which is huge, you have incredible investments in their ground forces, over 80% of their ground forces are bogged down and they are tired,” Rep. Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat who sits on the House Armed Services Committee and recently visited Ukraine, told CNN. “But they are still the Russian army.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov disputed the figure regarding a New York Times report.
“This is not a statement from the US administration,” Peskov said in a call with reporters on Thursday. “It’s a newspaper article. These days, even the most reputable newspapers don’t hesitate to spread all kinds of fakes. Unfortunately, this is an increasingly common practice. That’s how it have to deal with it.”
It is difficult to independently assess the number of victims of the war. Russian and Ukrainian officials, seeking to gain the upper hand in propaganda efforts, have sometimes exaggerated military advances and downplayed setbacks. The Kremlin does not provide regular casualty updates; on March 25, the Russian Defense Ministry said 1,351 of its soldiers had died in the first month of the invasion, but it has not shared any updates since.
Last week, Richard Moore, the head of MI6, told the Aspen security forum that he believed the Russians would start to lose steam in the coming weeks as they were short of manpower. .
And the next few weeks of the war will be crucial, US and Western officials have said, as the Ukrainians will attempt to mount a major counteroffensive in the south before winter. Ukraine is seeking additional reinforcements, lawmakers said during Wednesday’s briefing.
Ukraine will aim to retake the southern city of Kherson, which has been occupied by Russia since March, US and Western officials believe.
“The kind of main conversation in the briefing was, you know, what more can and should we do for Ukrainians, literally in the next three to six weeks, urgently. The Ukrainians want to go south and do operations in the south. And we want them to be as successful as possible,” Slotkin said.
“I think what we heard very strongly from President Zelensky and reinforced today is that the Ukrainians really want to kick Russia in the teeth a few times before winter, put them in the best possible position, hitting them especially towards the south.”
At the briefing, Slotkin said there was bipartisan support for sending long-range missiles to Ukraine, known as ATACMS, which can strike up to 180 miles away.
The Ukrainians have been urging the United States to provide these systems for months because the HIMARS they have can only reach distances of about 49 miles.
But National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told the Aspen Security Forum last week that the United States would not provide ATACMS because it could be used to strike Russian territory, which would aggravate war again.