Russia has lost a staggering 87 percent of the total number of active-duty ground troops it had before launching its invasion of Ukraine and two-thirds of its tanks before the invasion, a source familiar with a declassified intelligence assessment told CNN Provided to Congress.
Despite heavy losses in men and equipment, Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to press ahead as the second anniversary of the war approaches early next year, and US officials warn that Ukraine remains very vulnerable. A long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive stalled during the fall, and US officials believe Kyiv is unlikely to make any major gains in the coming months.
The assessment, sent to Capitol Hill on Monday, comes as some Republicans have opposed the United States providing additional funds to Ukraine. The Biden administration has launched an all-out offensive to secure supplemental funds in Congress.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was in Washington yesterday to meet with US legislators and President Joe Biden in a desperate attempt to obtain the military and economic aid that, according to him, is vital for Ukraine to keep up the fight against Russia.
Russia has maintained its war effort despite heavy losses by relaxing recruiting rules and drawing on Soviet reserves of old material. Still, the assessment concludes that the war has “dealt a severe setback to 15 years of Russian efforts to modernize its ground forces.”
Of the 360,000 soldiers who entered Ukraine, including contract and conscript personnel, Russia has lost 315,000 on the battlefield, according to the assessment. According to the assessment, 2,200 of the 3,500 tanks have been lost. 4,400 of the 13,600 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers have also been destroyed, representing a loss rate of 32%.
“By the end of November, Russia had lost more than a quarter of its pre-invasion reserves of ground material,” the assessment says. “This has reduced the complexity and scale of Russian offensive operations, which have not made significant progress in Ukraine since early 2022.”
CNN has contacted the Russian embassy in Washington for comment.
But the political environment in Washington presents perhaps the greatest danger to Ukraine. Some Republicans flatly reject any additional funding, and Senate Republicans insist that it be part of a broader spending package that includes money for Israel, Taiwan and the US southern border. The Biden administration warns that the United States will soon run out of money for Ukraine.
“The idea that Ukraine was going to return Russia to the 1991 borders was absurd,” Ohio Republican Senator JD Vance said on CNN’s State of the Union. «What we say to the president, and really to the entire world, is that he must articulate what his ambition is. What are 61 billion dollars going to achieve that 100 billion have not achieved?
Other newly declassified intelligence, previously reported by CNN, suggests that “Russia appears to believe that a winter military stalemate will deplete Western support for Ukraine and ultimately give Russia the advantage despite Russian losses.” and persistent shortages of trained personnel, ammunition and equipment,” according to a National Security Council spokesperson.
“Since the launch of its offensive in October, we estimate that the Russian army has suffered more than 13,000 casualties along the Avdiivka-Novopavlivka axis and more than 220 combat vehicle losses, the equivalent of 6 maneuver battalions in equipment alone,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson told CNN.
Before the invasion, Russia had a total standing army of approximately 900,000 active-duty troops, including ground troops, airborne troops, special operations and other uniformed personnel, according to the CIA. Since the start of the invasion, Russia has announced plans to increase the size of the armed forces to 1.5 million. The Russian Defense Ministry has announced several recruiting rounds, including its regular fall recruiting cycle on October 1.
Russia has also relied heavily on convicts mobilized for the fight by the Wagner Group and has increased the age limit for certain categories of citizens to remain in the reserve of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
Katie Bo Lillis