Russian army 'losing 800 troops a day' in first leg of spring offensive

Ukrainian forces are also suffering heavy losses, the UK has said

Russian soldiers attend a service during the military campaign in Ukraine. Reuters
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The Russian army is haemorrhaging troops in Ukraine at the fastest rate in a year, Britain has claimed.

As Moscow’s long-anticipated spring offensive gets under way, its soldiers are said to be dying in numbers not seen since the first week of the invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week declared Russia had begun its planned attack which analysts had been warning of for weeks.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said the first leg of the assault has dealt a heavy blow to invading forces.

“Over the past two weeks Russia has likely suffered its highest rate of casualties since the first week of the invasion of Ukraine,” the MoD said in a statement on Sunday.

It added that while the numbers from Kyiv could not be verified, “the trends the data illustrate are likely accurate”.

“The mean average for the last seven days was 824 casualties per day, over four times the rate reported over June-July 2022,” the MoD said, adding that the Ukrainian army also had a “high attrition rate”.

“The uptick in Russian casualties is likely due to a range of factors including lack of trained personnel, co-ordination and resources across the front — this is exemplified in Vuhledar and Bakhmut,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, the Wagner group of Russian paramilitaries on Sunday claimed it had captured a village a few kilometres from the key city of Bakhmut.

Moscow has for months been trying to take control of Bakhmut in the Donestsk oblast.

The city, which had a pre-war population of 73,000, is strategically important because it lies on an important motorway and near some rail links. Bringing it under their control would afford the Russians a chance to launch assaults on nearby towns.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Wagner, said on Sunday: “Today, Wagner's assault units took the town of Krasna Hora.”

Rivalry between the group, made up largely of convicts, and the Russian army has come to the surface during the fight for Bakhmut. However, the Kremlin denies a rift.

Mr Prigozhin on January 11 claimed his fighters had taken control of the city of Soledar, a salt-mining town with a pre-war population of about 10,000 near Bakhmut.

An image from founder of Russia's Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin's press service shows fighters posing for a picture near Bakhmut, Ukraine. Reuters

The Russian defence ministry said two days later that Moscow's forces were controlling the town.

Russia's State Duma introduced a bill late on Saturday setting discounts for oil exports, according to the lower house of parliament's website.

Under the draft proposal, the discount on dated Brent oil will be limited to £26 ($34) per barrel in April, declining to £26 in May, £23 in June and £21 in July.

The government has been debating how to calculate Russia's taxable oil price following the EU’s import ban and the resulting lack of a reliable price-setting mechanism.

Russia currently uses Urals price assessments in Europe's Rotterdam and Augusta ports, provided by commodity price reporting agency Argus, to determine its mineral extraction tax, additional income tax, oil export duty and reverse excise on oil.

Moscow said on Friday it will cut oil production by 500,000 barrels per day — about 5 per cent of output — in March, following the West's imposition of price caps on Russian oil and oil products.

Updated: February 13, 2023, 1:02 PM
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