Up to 15,000 Russian Soldiers Killed in Ukraine, NATO Says

(KYIV, Ukraine) — NATO estimated on Wednesday that 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in four weeks of war in Ukraine, where fierce resistance from the country’s defenders has denied Moscow the lightning victory it sought.

Russia lost roughly 15,000 troops during the 10 year period in Afghanistan.

A senior NATO military official said the alliance’s estimate was based on information from Ukrainian authorities, what Russia has released—intentionally or not—and intelligence gathered from open sources. NATO rules allow for anonymity.

The West and Ukraine have not provided any estimates or information on their military losses. However, President Volodymrzelenskyy stated that 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed two weeks ago.

When Russia unleashed its invasion Feb. 24 in Europe’s biggest offensive since World War II, a swift toppling of Ukraine’s government seemed likely. Moscow, however is stuck in a grueling military campaign after four consecutive weeks of fighting.

Zelenskyy—who has riveted the world’s attention with ad hoc videos and speeches to legislatures seeking military aid for his country—seized on the anniversary to plead for people around the world to gather in public Thursday to show support for Ukraine, saying the war breaks the heart of “every free person on the planet.”

“Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard,” Zelenskyy said in English during an emotional video address to the nation, recorded in the dark near the presidential offices in Kyiv. “Say that people matter. Freedom is essential. It is important to have peace. Ukraine matters.”

Speaking in Russian, Zelenskyy appealed to Russians “to leave Russia so as not to give your tax money to the war.” Tens of thousands of Russians already have fled their country since the war began, fearing an intensifying crackdown on dissent that has included the arrest of thousands of antiwar protesters and suppression of the media.

Zelenskyy, who will speak to NATO members by video on Thursday, also said he is asking the alliance to provide “effective and unrestricted” support to Ukraine, including any weapons the country needs to fend off the Russian invasion.

With its ground forces slowed or stopped by hit-and-run Ukrainian units armed with Western-supplied weapons, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops are bombarding targets from afar, falling back on the tactics they used in reducing cities to rubble in Syria and Chechnya.

An American defense official stated Wednesday that Russian ground troops appear to be making little or no progress towards Kyiv’s center.

According to the official who spoke under anonymity in order to discuss military assessments, it seems that the forces have stopped trying to enter the city. In some parts east of Kyiv the Ukrainian troops are pushing Russian soldiers further away.

The official stated that Russian troops are prioritizing fighting in Luhansk, Donetsk, and other regions of the Donbas. This could be in an attempt to stop Ukrainian troops from moving west and defending other cities. Official said that the U.S. had also witnessed activity by Russian ships at the Sea of Azov. These include what appears to be attempts to bring landing vessels ashore, as well as vehicles.

In an ominous sign that Moscow might consider using nuclear weapons, a senior Russian official said the country’s nuclear arsenal would help deter the West from intervening in Ukraine.

“The Russian Federation is capable of physically destroying any aggressor or any aggressor group within minutes at any distance,” Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the state aerospace corporation, Roscosmos, said in televised remarks. He noted that Moscow’s nuclear stockpiles include tactical nuclear weapons, designed for use on battlefields, along with far more powerful nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. Roscosmos oversees missile-building facilities.

U.S. officials long have warned that Russia’s military doctrine envisages an “escalate to deescalate” option of using battlefield nuclear weapons to force the enemy to back down in a situation when Russian forces face imminent defeat. Moscow denied such plans.

Rogozin’s bluster is well-known. He didn’t make it clear which actions would be viewed as meddling by the West, but his remarks almost certainly reflect the thinking of the Kremlin. Putin warned the West not to try and establish a no flight zone over Ukraine. This would lead it into a war with Russia. To protect Ukraine, the West states have stated they won’t create a zone of no-fly.

As U.S. President Joe Biden left for Europe to meet with key allies about new sanctions against Moscow and more military aid to Ukraine, he warned there is a “real threat” Russia could use chemical weapons.

European Union countries approved another 500m euros ($550 millions) for military aid to Ukraine, just days before Biden’s meeting.

Zelenskyy appealed to Western countries to stay united in the face of Russia’s efforts to “lobby its interests” with “some partners” to bring them over to its side, and noted during his national address that Ukraine has not received the fighter jets or modern air-defense systems it requested. He also stated that Ukraine requires tanks and antiship systems.

“It has been a month of defending ourselves from attempts to destroy us, wipe us off the face of the earth,” he said.

The U.S. believes that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine. It will prosecute those who are guilty, Antony Blinken Secretary of State said. He provided evidence that Russian troops had attacked civilians in indiscriminate and deliberate attacks, as well as the destruction of apartments, schools, hospitals and shopping centers, among other things.

However, Russian goals remain unfulfilled. This includes Kyiv where almost constant shelling and gunfire rattled the city Wednesday during the battle for multiple suburbs. Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of the Capital, stated that at most 264 civilians were killed since the outbreak of war.

Another journalist was also killed in the shelling on Wednesday. According to The Insider, a Russian independent news agency reported that Oksana Baulina, a Russian journalist was killed in Kyiv.

The encircled port of Mariupol in the south has suffered the most severe devastation from the war. It was subject to weeks of bombardment, and is now fighting street by street. The Ukrainian army has prevented it from falling, defeating an apparent Moscow bid to secure the land bridge linking Russia and Crimea. This was taken from Ukraine in 2014.

Zelenskyy claimed that there are still 100,000 civilians in the area, where 430,000 residents lived before war. There have been many failures in attempts to supply food and other necessities to the trapped.

Zelenskyy said that Russian forces took a convoy carrying humanitarian aid. Iryna Vereshchuk, Deputy Prime Minister, stated that the Russians had taken 11 bus drivers from Russia and four rescue workers with them.

Mariupol officials stated in their most recent update that at least 2300 people died. But the real death toll may be higher. In the last week, airstrikes destroyed an art school and a theatre where civilians had been sheltering.

Russian forces destroyed and bombed a bridge in Chernihiv’s northern city, Viacheslav Chaus stated.

Kateryna Mytkevich fled Chernihiv and arrived in Poland. Mytkevich (39), said that the city was without running water or electricity and many neighborhoods were 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 is going “strictly in accordance” with plans.

NATO’s official stated that between 35,000 and 45,000 Russian soldiers had been wounded or killed. Russia stated that close to 500 soldiers had been killed in the last update. Nearly 1,600 were wounded.

Ukraine claims that it has killed six Russian generals. Russia has only one confirmed general.

The figures from NATO represent the alliance’s first public estimate of Russian casualties since the war began. According to the U.S. government, it has not provided estimates for casualties in Ukraine or Russia.


Anna reported from Lviv in Ukraine. Reporting was done by Robert Burns of the Associated Press in Washington and Yuras Karmanau from Lviv. Other AP journalists worldwide contributed.

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