Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties in Ukraine over a five month period, according to US intelligence estimates shared by the White House on Monday.
A significant number of the Russian dead and wounded are believed to be from the Wagner Group, a private military contractor company providing mercenaries for the Kremlin.
On Monday, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby also addressed the overall strategic picture in Ukraine. He largely dismissed Russia’s winter offensive as a failure.
Russian casualties in Ukraine
John Kirby told reporters that the US intelligence community estimates that Russian forces have sustained approximately 100,000 casualties over the past five months. Of that number, over 20,000 are believed to have been killed.
At least half of the Russian troops killed in action are believed to be members of the Wagner mercenary group.
“It’s really stunning, these numbers,” commented Kirby, adding that the total number of Russian casualties exceeded the number of American casualties in the Guadalcanal campaign in the Second World War by as much as three times.
Meanwhile, US intelligence documents that were leaked in April, appear to show a high degree of disagreement between Russia’s security apparatuses over the correct figures for the Russian death toll.
According to the leaked documents, the FSB, Russia’s security and counterintelligence agency, estimated that Russia sustained nearly 110,000 casualties by February since the start of the conflict.
However, the FSB’s estimates are far higher than the figures given internally by other Russian government bodies and officials if the leaked documents are to be believed. Indeed, the FSB reportedly accused officials of underreporting by failing to count the deaths of the Russian National Guard, Wagner mercenaries and others units.
The documents leaked in April purport that Russia has suffered a total of 189,500-223,000 casualties in Ukraine since the start of the conflict. This number is made up of 35,500-43,000 killed in action and 154,000-180,000 wounded.
The same documents indicate that Ukraine has sustained 124,500-131,000 total casualties, of which 15,500-17,500 were killed in action and 109,000-113,500 were wounded in action.
At the time of the leak, both Moscow and Kyiv questioned the veracity of the casualty estimates.
The overall strategic picture
Kirby also spoke at length about the overall state of the war in Ukraine.
“Russia’s attempt at a winter offensive in the Donbas largely through Bakhmut has failed,” he said.
“Last December, Russia initiated a broad offensive across multiple lines of advance, including toward Vuhledar, Avdiivka, Bakhmut, and Kreminna. Most of these efforts stalled and failed. Russia has been unable to seize any strategically significant territory,” he continued.
Kirby did avow that the Russians had made some progress in Bakhmut but said that these gains had been made at a “terrible, terrible cost”.