Russia lost 20,000 troops in five months, claims US

A Ukrainian soldier fires an RPG during his training at the frontline positions near Vuhledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, May 1, 2023.
A Ukrainian soldier fires an RPG during his training at the frontline positions near Vuhledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, May 1, 2023. Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Joshua Askew
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Both sides of the Ukraine war are tight-lipped about how many casualties they have suffered since the fighting began.


Around 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed over the last five months in Ukraine, the US said on Monday. 

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters 100,000 men had been killed or wounded in the Bakhmut region and other areas of Ukraine since December. 

Euronews cannot independently verify these figures. 

The extent of losses on either side is difficult to estimate, with officials remaining quiet about how many soldiers they have lost. 

Moscow has not commented on the US claim. 

More than half of the dead are believed to be from Russia's Wagner mercenary force, which was recently filled with convicts who were offered reduced or annulled prison sentences to fight. 

They have been attacking Bakhmut since last year, with analysts likening the eastern city to a meat grinder. 

Ukrainian officials have echoed this comment, saying they are using the ferocious battle to kill as many of Russia's troops as possible and exhaust its war effort. 

But it is likely Ukraine has also suffered significant losses, too. 

Moscow has reportedly captured most of Bakhmut, which sits in the prized eastern Donbas region, but Ukrainian troops cling on in a small portion of the city to the West. 

Though its strategic importance is debated, the small salt mining city has taken on huge symbolic importance for both sides.

Ukraine wants to prove its ability to resist Russia, seeing this as a precursor to Western support, while Russia is eager to obtain a clear battlefield victory that it can point to. 

The leader of the Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has also staked his reputation on seizing the city.

Speaking on Monday, White House spokesman Kirby said Moscow had made minor gains in Bakmut, but this had come at a "terrible, terrible cost" and their effort had "stalled". 

"Russia's attempt at a winter offensive in the Donbas largely through Bakhmut has failed," he said. "Russia has been unable to seize any strategically significant territory."

The US official claimed that Ukraine's defences remained strong. But he stopped short of giving an estimate of the Ukrainian casualty figure, saying "they are the victims here".

"Russia is the aggressor," he added.

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