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Reuters: US intelligence reports Russia has lost 90% of original pre-invasion force in Ukraine

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 12, 2023 9:19 PM 3 min read
A man digs a grave near tombs of Russian soldiers at a cemetery in the town of Yefremov in the Tula region on March 23, 2023. (For illustrative purposes) (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia has lost 315,000 troops in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion, representing nearly 90% of the military personnel it had in February 2022, Reuters reported on Dec. 12, citing a declassified U.S. intelligence report.

Russia is expected to launch a new mobilization drive in 2024, most likely after the presidential elections in March. The country declared a partial mobilization of 300,000 personnel in the autumn of 2022.

"The scale of losses has forced Russia to take extraordinary measures," such as allowing the recruitment of convicts and older civilians, the intelligence reportedly said.

The losses in personnel and armored vehicles "have set back Russia's military modernization by 18 years," a source familiar with the intelligence report told Reuters.  

According to the report, Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine with 360,000 personnel. By now, 87% have been killed or injured.

The Russian military is increasingly looking to recruit foreigners and migrant workers to fill the ranks, with reports emerging in distant countries like Cuba and Nepal of men being trafficked to fight for Russia in Ukraine.

UK Defense Ministry: Russia seeking to suppress domestic anti-mobilization sentiment
Russian authorities have sought to discredit the rare public display of dissent as well as offering increased cash payments for the families of mobilized soldiers if they agree to not protest.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Dec. 1 to increase the size of Russia's army by 170,000 people, bringing it to a new total of 1,320,000 military personnel.

The U.S. intelligence report corresponds with similar estimates of the scale of the Russian army's losses in Ukraine.

The U.K. Defense Ministry said on Dec. 4 that it estimates 320,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Neither Moscow nor Kyiv releases public information about troop losses, but the Russian military's culture of dishonest reporting means that Russian officials themselves likely have a "low level of understanding" about casualty figures, the ministry said.

Russian independent media outlet Mediazona, together with the BBC's Russian Service, confirmed on Dec. 1 the names of 38,261 Russian soldiers who have been killed since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion.

The journalists said that the actual figures are likely considerably higher since the information they have verified so far comes from public sources, including obituaries, posts by relatives, news in regional media, and reports by local authorities.

The Dec. 12 Ukrainian military update said that Russia has lost over 340,000 troops in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion.

The New York Times reported in August that Russia's military casualties were nearing 300,000, citing U.S. officials. The figure included an estimated 120,000 deaths on the Russian side, which Moscow "routinely" undercounts, the report said.

Putin plays it safe by delaying new mobilization ahead of election in Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Dec. 8 that he would participate in the upcoming presidential elections in March, seeking his 5th term in office. Putin, 71, has been in power since 1999 and it’s all but certain that he will secure a six-year term. Russia’s upcoming presidential
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