In 3 weeks, Russia lost more soldiers in Ukraine than US did in 20-year war in Middle East

In addition, estimates placed the number of Russian soldiers injured at somewhere between 14,000 and 21,000.

Andrew Koay | March 20, 2022, 03:58 PM

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Three weeks into the invasion of Ukraine, Russia appears to be taking unsustainable losses.

While the Ukrainian officials claimed that 14,000 Russian troops have fallen, The New York Times reported a more conservative figure — closer to 7,000, including three generals.

Yet, even the lower estimate would amount to more losses than the United States sustained during 20 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Researchers from Brown University found in July 2021 that 7,057 U.S. troops had died as a result of the post-9/11 operations.

In addition, estimates placed the number of Russian soldiers injured at somewhere between 14,000 and 21,000.

It's a sizeable chunk of the 190,000-strong force that the Kremlin had committed to the war in Ukraine.

According to The New York Times, U.S. officials believe that a 10 per cent casualty rate would render a single unit unable to carry out combat-related tasks.

Low morale within Russian camp

The BBC further reported that the losses are likely having an effect on the mood within the Russian army.

Western officials have said there is evidence of "very, very, low" morale among Russian soldiers.

The invading troops are also reportedly "cold, tired, and hungry", having camped out in the snow for weeks in Belarus and Russia before the invasion.

The New York Times also cited a report of Russian soldiers abandoning their vehicles and walking off into the woods.

Robert Farley, a professor from the University of Kentucky studying airpower, described the current state of play for Vox as "seeing a country militarily implode".

It all might offer an explanation for Russia's inability — thus far — to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, which stands in stark contrast to the widely held belief of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who expected the invasion to conclude swiftly.

Figures are inexact

Does this mean that Ukraine might actually win the war? Not necessarily.

It's important to note that estimates of troop deaths are inexact and compiled through various means in the absence of an absolute count.

One example involves calculating casualties by extrapolating the number of troops usually in a tank after reports of one being hit by an anti-tank missile.

Expectedly, Ukrainian estimates tend to differ greatly from Russian reports, the latest of which place Russian losses at under 500.

There's also the matter of Ukrainian losses. Business Insider reported that the 1,300 troops that Ukraine has confirmed as killed are likely to be much higher in reality.

"Greater brutality"

According to the BBC, the unsustainable casualty rate might see Putin move more decisively to win the war.

Western officials have warned that the Russian president could "double down with greater brutality".

Such a move might see Russian forces bombarding Ukrainian cities for a "considerable period of time".

However, Olga Oliker, the programme director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Crisis Group, told Vox that even if Russia did manage to turn the tides of war in its favour, its original objective of a totally subservient Ukraine looked increasingly out of reach.

The strong resistance and rising nationalist sentiment within Ukraine — which by many accounts appeared to have surprised the Kremlin — would effectively make it hard for Russia to successfully install its own government in Kyiv.

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Top image from @ng_Ukraine Twitter account