An unidentified U.S. “senior defense official” offered another briefing yesterday and made an eye-popping assessment of how much of Russia’s overall military is devoted to the invasion of Ukraine:
We haven’t seen any indications that anything is moving right now outside of what they have already in Ukraine. But we know they said that they are suffering losses everyday losses of people, losses of equipment, losses of aircraft. And so, it certainly stands to reason that they would want to be exploring options to replenish those losses. Again, just haven’t seen an indication.
And as for, you know, how much of his total military that he has dedicated to this fight? We would estimate it’s around 75 percent of his total military committed to the fight in Ukraine.
Because Russia’s military is estimated to be around 1 million total personnel, it is more likely that the senior defense official meant this is 75 percent of the 280,000 or so personnel committed to ground forces. Three-quarters of that sum would be 210,000; some press accounts refer to “Russia’s roughly 200,000-strong original invading force.”
Even if this official’s estimate is off by a few percentage points . . . a lot of Russia’s overall ground forces are currently deployed in the invasion of Ukraine.
No one has a precise number of the Russian military casualties, but the current conservative estimate from U.S. intelligence is more than 7,000 dead and 14,000 to 21,000 injured. The Ukrainians claimed to have inflicted more than 11,000 Russian military casualties back on March 6.
It’s not the U.S. role to get in the way of a negotiated peace or ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia. But one of my concerns at this moment is that Putin will belatedly realize his war is going terribly and call a time-out. Agreeing to some sort of uneasy peace would allow Putin to keep certain territorial gains, get out from under the sanctions, and then spend the next two or three years firing incompetent generals and intelligence chiefs, rebuilding and restocking his army, and investing in more advanced military technology. And then, once Putin is ready, he can do this all over again — this time without wildly misleading intelligence reports, seriously underprepared forces, and all of the other shocking mistakes that have hampered his ambitions.
Then again, maybe the Russian casualties have been so severe — more in three weeks than the U.S. and U.K. combined suffered in Afghanistan in 20 years! — that Russian generals will slow-walk any changes designed to enable another attempt to conquer Ukraine again.
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