7,000 to 15,000 dead Russian soldiers in Ukraine – Delco Times
By NEBI QENA and CARA ANNA
Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – NATO on Wednesday estimated that 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in four weeks of war in Ukraine, where bitter fighting by the country’s fast-moving defenders has denied Moscow the lightning victory it seeks.
For comparison: Russia has lost about 15,000 soldiers in Afghanistan in ten years.
A senior NATO military official said the alliance’s estimate was based on information from Ukrainian authorities, what Russia — intentionally or not — released and information from open sources. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with ground rules established by NATO.
As Russia unleashed its invasion on February 24 in Europe’s biggest offensive since World War II, a swift overthrow of Ukraine’s government seemed likely. But as Wednesday marks four full weeks of fighting, Moscow is mired in a grueling military campaign.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops are being slowed or stopped by Ukrainian units armed with Western-supplied weapons. Bombing targets from afar, they’re resorting to the tactics they’ve used to raze cities in Syria and Chechnya.
As US President Joe Biden left for Europe to meet with key allies over new sanctions on Moscow and more military aid to Ukraine, he warned of a “real threat” that Russia could use chemical weapons.
The US government has also determined that Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine and will work to prosecute the perpetrators, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. He cited evidence of indiscriminate or deliberate attacks on civilians and the destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, shopping malls and other sites.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Japanese parliament that thousands of his people had been killed, including at least 121 children.
“Our people cannot even bury their murdered relatives, friends and neighbors properly. They must be buried right in the yards of destroyed buildings alongside the streets,” he said.
Nevertheless, important Russian goals remain unfulfilled. The capital Kyiv was repeatedly bombed, but not once surrounded.
Almost continuous shelling and gunfire rattled the city on Wednesday, with billows of black smoke billowing from the western outskirts where the two sides were fighting for control of several suburbs. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said at least 264 civilians had been killed in the capital since the outbreak of war.
To the south, the encircled port city of Mariupol has seen the worst of the war’s devastation, having been bombed for weeks and now fighting street after street. But Ukrainian forces have prevented their fall, thwarting an apparent attempt by Moscow to fully secure a land bridge from Russia to Crimea that was seized by Ukraine in 2014.
Zelenskyi said that 100,000 civilians live in a city that had a population of 430,000 before the war. Efforts to get much-needed food and other supplies for those trapped have often failed.
Zelenskyy accused Russian forces of seizing a humanitarian convoy. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the Russians detained 11 bus drivers and four rescue workers along with their vehicles.
In their last update, over a week ago, Mariupol officials said at least 2,300 people had died, but the true number is likely much higher. Airstrikes last week destroyed a theater and an arts school where civilians were taking shelter.
In the besieged northern city of Chernihiv, Russian forces bombed and destroyed a bridge used for aid deliveries and civilian evacuations, regional governor Viacheslav Chaus said.
Kateryna Mytkevich, who came to Poland after fleeing Chernihiv, wiped away tears as she spoke about what she had seen. The city is without gas, electricity or running water, said Mytkevich, 39, and entire neighborhoods have been destroyed.
“I don’t understand why we have such a curse,” she said.
Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted the military operation was proceeding “strictly according” to plans.
The latest figure for Ukraine’s military casualties came from Zelenskyy on March 12, when he said some 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in action.
The NATO official said an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded.
Russia has released very little information about its victims, saying on March 2 that nearly 500 soldiers had been killed and nearly 1,600 injured.
Ukraine also claims to have killed six Russian generals. Russia only recognizes a dead general.
The NATO figures represent the alliance’s first public estimate of Russian casualties since the beginning of the war. The US government has largely refused to provide estimates of Russian or Ukrainian casualties, arguing that the available information is of questionable reliability.
As casualties mount and a quick victory is no longer in sight, Russia must work to quell dissent and boost morale.
It has arrested thousands of anti-war protesters and cracked down on the media. Also, under a law passed on Wednesday, troops in Ukraine will receive the same benefits as veterans of previous wars, including tax breaks, rebates on utility companies and preferential access to medical treatment.
In an apparent sign of growing divisions in Russia’s top echelons, Anatoly Chubais has resigned, Peskov told the Interfax news agency. Chubais, the architect of the post-Soviet privatization campaign in Russia, had served in various top posts over three decades. His most recent role was Putin’s envoy to international organizations.
Peskov did not want to say whether Chubais had left the country.
Western officials say Putin’s forces are facing serious shortages of food, fuel and cold-weather equipment, with soldiers suffering frostbite while Ukraine’s defenders have gone more on the offensive.
Still, Russia’s far stronger and larger military has led many Western pundits to warn against over-confidence in Ukraine’s long-term prospects. The Kremlin’s practice in past wars has been to crush the resistance by leveling cities, killing countless civilians and sending millions fleeing.
Talks to end the fighting continued via video. Zelenskyy said the negotiations with Russia were “progressing step by step, but they are moving forward”.
Without peace, those who were not yet fighting prepared for it.
“Nowadays everything is a bestseller,” said Zakhar Sluzhalyy, owner of a gun shop in the western city of Lviv.
“We are defending our country,” he said. “We are fighting for our freedom and that of the rest of Europe.”
Anna reported from Lemberg, Ukraine. Associated Press writers Robert Burns in Washington, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, and other AP journalists around the world contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine