Russia sustains record casualties in Ukraine summer offensive

Half a million of Moscow's troops have been killed or wounded since invasion started, say western officials

Russian forces suffered 1,200 casualties a day in May during their summer offensive around Kharkiv. Reuters
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The Russian summer offensive in Ukraine has cost Moscow a record 1,200 personnel killed or wounded daily, raising questions over whether its population can sustain the war.

Russian forces have suffered a total of 500,000 casualties, of whom more than 150,000 were killed in action, since their 2022 invasion, western officials have reported.

The high casualty rate appears to have been confirmed by President Vladimir Putin, who inadvertently stated on Wednesday that Russia was suffering 20,000 casualties a month, which included 5,000 dead.

Reported Russian personnel casualties in May averaged 1,200 a day, “the highest reported since the beginning of the war”, a media briefing was told.

But Russia’s continued offensive around the eastern Ukraine city of Kharkiv will “continue to be challenging for Ukrainian ground forces over the next three months”, an official said.

Despite its losses, Russia was still able to regenerate about 30,000 recruits a month, albeit most of them poorly trained.

While the recruitment could be sustained for “a period of time” an official told The National it was “very difficult to determine the time at which the domestic consensus fails in a nation, and they're unable to sustain that level of recruitment”.

This would become clearer by autumn depending on the attrition suffered during the summer offensive, the official added.

Moscow’s forces are likely to suffer further high casualties after the US, UK and other nations agreed to allow strikes by their advanced missiles against troops assembling across the border in Russia itself.

“Until that decision had been taken, Russian forces were quite free to mass both [artillery] fires and manpower almost within sight of Ukrainian forces in order to launch an offensive, and there was nothing they were able to do about it,” an official said.

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The ability to launch systems such as the Himars precision rockets, that have a range of up to 300km, will also “buy time” for more western arms to arrive and for Ukraine to reinforce their defences against the Russian offensive, which currently appears to be in abeyance.

In response to the western move, Mr Putin on Thursday said Russia would provide long-range strike capabilities to unspecified countries for strikes against the West.

It is understood that the threat was made to curtail the West’s policy although the western officials indicated that Russia had “low reserves of its premium weapons”, allowing them to strike deep into Ukraine.

Updated: June 09, 2024, 10:07 AM