Russia may be losing troops on the front lines almost as fast as it can bring in new ones, war experts say

Russia may be losing troops on the front lines almost as fast as it can bring in new ones, war experts say
  • Russia is struggling to send enough soldiers to make up for its front line losses, war experts said.

  • The Institute for the Study of War analyzed Russian casualty rates over the last two months.

  • They suggest that Russia may be losing more soldiers than it can bring in new ones, it said.

The Russian army is losing so many soldiers on the front lines in Ukraine that it is likely struggling to recruit enough new ones to replace its losses, according to military experts.

The Institute for the Study of War drew its assessment from casualty and recruitment numbers shared by Ukraine over the last two months, as well as from the intensity of the fighting across the front lines.

Russian forces lost almost 11,000 soldiers in the area around the eastern towns of Kupyansk, Lyman, and Bakhmut in November, Volodymyr Fityo, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ground Forces Command, said on Thursday, according to Ukrainian state broadcaster Suspilne.

Based on this number and the intensity of the fighting on that axis, the ISW estimated that Russian casualty rates in neighboring Avdiivka could be even higher "given the higher operational tempo there."

About 5,000 Russian troops were killed or wounded in that area between October 10 and 26, Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun said in late October, at the height of a bloody campaign that saw Russia launch two waves of assaults on Avdiivka, per the ISW.

And with Russia throwing more soldiers into mass infantry-led assaults to take Avdiivka, the risk is that its forces will suffer "even greater manpower losses," the ISW said.

Further south, Russian forces have suffered "significant casualties," with more than 1,200 soldiers killed and over 2,200 injured on the left bank of the Dnipro River between October 17 and November 17, the Ukrainian General Staff said.

Ukrainian forces are likely inflicting similar losses in the southern Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the ISW added.

If the Ukrainian estimates are accurate, the ISW concluded, it suggests that Russian operations in Ukraine are "highly attritional," with Russian losses not just resulting from its offensives in Avdiivka.

Added together, the ISW said that Russia's casualty toll would likely surpass the number of soldiers it is recruiting on a monthly basis, which Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukraine's military intelligence agency, claimed was about 20,000.

Russia's death toll could actually be closer to the recruitment estimates released by Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev, who said that Russia's military recruited 42,000 personnel between November 9 and December 1, the ISW said.

It added a caveat to its assessment, saying that "both recruiting and casualty figures likely fluctuate over the course of the year, and all available figures are likely exaggerated."

If Russia keeps recruiting at its current rate while losing the same number of soldiers, its army will struggle to replenish or reconstitute its existing units, as well as form new ones, the ISW added.

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