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Sunday, November 27, 2022

The deaths of Russian soldiers reveal a potential weakness in Putin’s strategy

Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin was so concerned about Russian fatality counts coming to light after the country’s seizure of Crimea that officials harassed journalists who attempted to cover funerals for some of the 400 servicemen who died during the one-month operation.

However, according to American and European sources, Moscow may be losing that many troops on a daily basis in Mr. Putin’s new assault of Ukraine. Russia’s increasing casualty toll presents a possible vulnerability for Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time when he is still openly stating that he is only engaging in a limited military campaign in Ukraine’s rebel east.

Everyone agrees that a large number of Russian soldiers have killed since last Thursday, when they started what is turning out to be a lengthy march to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. According to the Pentagon, several Russian military forces have laid down their weapons and declined to engage in the current conflict. So far, major Ukrainian cities have managed to withstand the attack.

American authorities had predicted that the northern city of Kharkiv would fall within a day, but Ukrainian forces there have fought back and recovered control despite a barrage of rocket fire from the Russian-led coalition. The corpses of Russian servicemen have been dumped in the vicinity of Kharkiv, according to local media. Videos and photographs posted on social media show the burnt wreckage of tanks and armoured vehicles, as well as the bodies or injured crew members of the vehicles.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, admitted for the first time on Sunday that “there are dead and injured” Russian forces, but he did not provide any specific statistics. The Ukrainian losses, he said, were “many times” more. Ukraine claims to have killed more than 5,300 Russian soldiers in the course of its operations.

There has been no independent verification of either side’s allegations, and officials from the Biden administration have declined to disclose fatality statistics in the public arena. However, one American source estimated that Russia had suffered 2,000 casualties as of Monday, an estimate that was backed up by two European officials.

High-ranking Pentagon officials informed senators in closed-door briefings on Monday that the number of dead among Russian and Ukrainian military personnel looked to be the equal, with around 1,500 on each side in the first five days, according to congressional sources. It was noted that the statistics, which were obtained from satellite photography, communication intercepts and social media reports as well as on the ground, were just educated guesses.

In contrast, almost 2,500 American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan during the course of the war’s 20-year duration.

Mr. Putin is concerned that the mounting death toll in Ukraine would erode any residual home support for his Ukrainian initiatives. It is said that Russians have long memories, and mothers of soldiers in particular, might readily recall the 15,000 men slain when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan, or the thousands killed in Chechnya, according to American authorities.

According to military experts, Russia has placed field hospitals close to the front lines and has also monitored ambulances travelling between Russian soldiers and hospitals in neighbouring Belarus, which is a close friend of Moscow.

The Ukrainian administration has already started to provide an answer to that question. On Sunday, Russian officials unveiled a website that they said was intended to assist Russian families in tracking down information on servicemen who may have been killed or detained in action. Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs claims responsibility for the creation of the website, which claims to be giving recordings of captured Russian troops, some of whom are wounded. The images and videos vary during the course of the day.

Ukraine and the West developed the website as part of a drive to counter what American officials describe as Russian misinformation, which included Russia’s assertion before the invasion that the soldiers around Ukraine were merely there for military training exercises. Information and the struggle for public opinion have come to play an outsized role in a conflict that has taken on the appearance of a David vs. Goliath contest on a global scale in recent years.

Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, read aloud before the General Assembly on Monday what he said were the last text messages sent by a Russian soldier to his mother. He said that Ukrainian soldiers were able to collect them after the soldier was assassinated. As reported by Mr. Kyslytsya, “we were informed that they would welcome us, and instead they are collapsing beneath our armoured vehicles, putting themselves under the wheels, and refusing to let us to pass,” he stated in his letter. “They refer to us as fascists. “Mama, this is so difficult.”

It was not clear how these assessments were made, which were presumably based on a mosaic of intelligence including statements from captured Russian soldiers and communications intercepts, or how widespread these setbacks might be across the vast battlefield, according to the Pentagon official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the operational developments.

Officials in the Obama administration predicted that images of body bags or coffins, or troops slain and abandoned on the battlefield, would be the most devastating to President Vladimir Putin at home.

“Military man from Russia! “You were sent to our country to murder and perish,” he said emphatically.” “Do not abide with criminal court directives. If you lay down your guns, we will promise you complete amnesty and a reward of 5 million rubles. “There will be no pity for those who continue to act in an occupying manner.”

Chris Matthews
I am a Political News Journalist of The National Era
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