Russia so far lost 15,000 troops in Ukraine: UK defense secretary
Around 15,000 Russian troops have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine just over two months ago, Britain’s defense secretary told parliament on Monday.
Ben Wallace also announced further British support for Ukraine.
“The offensive that was supposed to take a maximum of a week has now taken weeks,” Wallace said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin “must not be allowed to prevail.”
“It is our assessment that approximately 15,000 Russian personnel have been killed during their offensive,” he said. In the USSR’s decade-long invasion of Afghanistan, which ended in 1989, an estimated 56,000 Soviet troops died.
“Alongside the death toll are the equipment losses, and in total a number of sources suggest that to date over 2,000 armored vehicles have been destroyed or captured.
“This includes at least 530 tanks, 530 armored personnel carriers, and 560 infantry fighting vehicles. Russia has also lost over 60 helicopters and fighter jets.”
Wallace added that at the start of the conflict, Russia had committed over 120 battalion tactical groups, or around 65% of its entire ground combat strength. He said Britain now assessed that over 25% of these have been rendered “not combat effective.”
He continued: “We shall be gifting a small number of armored vehicles fitted with launchers for those anti-air (Starstreak) missiles.”
He said the vehicles Britain sends would give Ukrainian forces “enhanced, short-range anti-air capabilities both day and night.”
Asked by the defense committee chair what success in Ukraine would look like, Wallace said: “Our strategic aim is twofold. One is that Putin must fail in Ukraine, he must fail in his invasion, and I think he is on course to do that actually. He must fail in his occupation of Ukraine and I think he has definitely failed in achieving that.
“To the fine tuning of that, that is as much a matter of Ukraine’s choice as it is of anybody else – that Ukraine gets to choose where it wishes to settle for peace. We will do everything we can to support them.
“For my part, I want Putin not only beyond the pre-February boundaries. He invaded Crimea illegally, he invaded Donetsk illegally, and he should comply with international law and in the long run leave Ukraine.”
In what some see as a prelude to the 2022 war, in 2014 Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, and in the years that followed supported a separatist conflict in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk and Luhansk, two enclaves whose “independence” Russia recognized just before Feb. 24, the start of the current war.