US Report: Russia Has Lost a Stunning Number of Troops

Putin reportedly believes battered Russian military will outlast Western support for Ukraine
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2023 8:37 AM CST
Despite Heavy Losses, Russia Sees Just One Hurdle in Victory Path
In this image taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on July 12, 2023, Russians ride a military vehicle at an undisclosed location.   (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

Russia has lost 87% of the ground troops and 62% of the tanks it had at the start of its war with Ukraine, according to a declassified US intelligence assessment. It paints a picture of Russia's military as struggling, though it's pushing forward despite the losses in the hope of gaining an advantage as US lawmakers fight over additional security aid for Ukraine. Moscow has had to relax recruitment standards while pulling 50-year-old T-62 tanks from storage after losing 315,000 of 360,000 troops, 2,200 of 3,500 tanks, and 4,400 of 13,600 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers it had at the start of the conflict, the assessment reads, per CNN and the New York Times.

"The war in Ukraine has sharply set back 15 years of Russian effort to modernize its ground force," it states. A separate assessment details Russia's goal to erode Western support for its opponent. Indeed, its push in eastern Ukraine this fall and winter was designed with that endgame in mind. Russia "seems to believe that a military deadlock through the winter will drain Western support for Ukraine," National Security Council rep Adrienne Watson tells the Times.

Russia has suffered more significant losses than Ukraine in its latest push, with more than 13,000 casualties and more than 220 combat vehicles lost, says Watson. But Russian President Vladimir Putin "believes he is beginning to see success in his strategy of trying to out wait the West," per the Times. US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, has said no one is happier about the congressional gridlock on aid for Ukraine than Putin. Some Republicans have refused to back $61 billion in additional security aid for Ukraine without action to secure the US southern border.

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Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has questioned the spending of billions of dollars "with no appropriate oversight, without a clear strategy to win," per the Guardian. Per CNN, Republican Sen. JD Vance asked, "What is $61 billion going to accomplish that $100 billion hasn't?" Their words echo those of the Kremlin's Dmitry Peskov, who said "tens of billions of dollars" provided by Washington had failed to turn the war in Ukraine's favor and more funding would do little to change the status quo. Western officials expect Russia to dedicate nearly 40% of government spending to defense and security in 2024, per the BBC. Ukraine, meanwhile, may have to ration ammunition. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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