Russian losses in Ukraine over the first three months are likely to have already surpassed those of the Soviet-Afghan war which lasted nine years, the UK Ministry of Defence has said.
The Soviet Union’s losses are estimated to be around 15,000 killed in the Afghan war, with an additional 35,478 wounded and 311 missing.
‘The Russian public has, in the past, proven sensitive to casualties suffered during wars of choice,’ said the UK government ministry, which did not name the exact figure.
‘As casualties suffered in Ukraine continue to rise they will become more apparent, and public dissatisfaction with the war and a willingness to voice it may grow.’
Poor tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility, and a command approach reinforcing failure and repeating mistakes has led to the high casualty rate, said the ministry.
The UK’s Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace previously estimated that approximately a quarter of Russia’s battalion tactical groups were ‘not combat effective.’
Ukraine’s military claims that around 28,700 Russian troops have been killed in the country since February, while Russia puts its own losses 1,351, a figure that has not been updated since late March.
The Soviet-Afghan War ended in a victory for the Mujahideen when Russian forces withdrew after almost a decade of fighting.
Since the war in Ukraine began on February 24, Ukraine claims to have destroyed 204 Russian aircraft, 168 helicopters, 460 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,263 tanks and 3,090 armored vehicles since the war began, along with almost 30,000 troops.
Russia has also lost 200 multiple rocket launcher systems, 2,162 vehicles, 103 cruise missiles, 93 anti-aircraft systems and 13 boats, the Ukrainian military said.
Body count estimates during wartime are notoriously unreliable, due to the fog-of-war.
Fighting is intensifying in the Donbas region, with Ukrainian president Zelensky saying that up to 100 Ukrainians are dying every day in battle with the Russians in the east.
On May 16, the New York Times reported that 480 Russian soldiers died attempting to bridge a river in the Donbas.
The news comes as Russian army veteran Igor Girkin – who goes by the nom-de-guerre Igor Strelkov, meaning ‘shooter’ – said Russia has no hope of winning its war in Ukraine even if it manages to seize the whole of Donbas