Ukraine has lost 90,000 men since June – Putin
The Ukrainian military has lost more than 90,000 troops since its counteroffensive against Russian forces began in June, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on Thursday.
“Since June 4 alone, Ukrainian units have already lost over 90,000 people,” Putin told a plenary session of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, noting that this number includes both deaths and incapacitations.
Ukraine has also lost 557 tanks and almost 1,900 armored vehicles in the same timeframe, Putin added.
The counteroffensive began on June 4 with a series of Ukrainian advances along the frontline between Kherson and Donetsk. The operation quickly ran into trouble, however, as Ukrainian units advanced headlong through minefields to meet multiple layers of Russian trenches, tank traps, and gun emplacements. With no air support to cover the repeated Ukrainian assaults, Kiev’s troops were exposed to attacks by Russian artillery, helicopters, and drones.
After adjusting their tactics several times, Ukrainian units managed to capture a handful of villages near Zaporozhye in August, although losses remained high. Western-supplied tanks were destroyed from afar by Russian drones and missiles, and Ukraine lost 17,000 men in September alone, according to figures from the Russian Defense Ministry.
Western officials have publicly acknowledged that the counteroffensive did not proceed as they would have hoped, and media reports suggest that the operation is viewed as a failure in the US and Europe. Even though heavy autumn rains will soon make progress on the battlefield extremely difficult, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has vowed to keep the offensive going into the winter.
The Ukrainian military does not publish its own casualty figures, although some estimates have leaked out. Back in December, the European Commission published and swiftly deleted a video and its associated transcript in which Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the Ukrainian military had suffered 100,000 fatalities in the first nine months of the conflict.
“We understand where and what we need to do,” Putin said on Thursday. “We are calmly moving towards achieving our goals, and I am confident that we will achieve them.”
Putin emphasized that Russia’s goal in Ukraine was not to expand the territory of the Russian Federation, but to build a “new world order” in which NATO or other military blocs were no longer able to impose their will on civilizations that resist. Putin also highlighted Kiev’s repression of Russian-speakers in the Donbass region as a key factor behind his decision to launch the military operation in Ukraine last year.