Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed his invasion of Ukraine sought only the “demilitarization and de-Nazification” of Russia’s smaller neighbor. More than a month into the invasion, Ukraine’s United Nations ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, used the same phrase to highlight Russia’s losses in the war.
The “demilitarization of Russia is well under way,” Kyslytsya told the UN Security Council on Tuesday. He claimed Russia has lost more than 17,000 military personnel since invading, plus more than 1,700 armored vehicles and about 600 tanks, in “an unprecedented blow to Moscow, where the numbers of Soviet losses in Afghanistan pale in comparison.” Russia’s loss of 15,000 or more troops over a decade in Afghanistan helped lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Kyslytsya also claimed Russia has lost 127 planes, 129 helicopters, 7 ships, 300 artillery systems, almost 100 rocket launchers systems, and 54 air defense systems, The Associated Press reports.
Russia recently claimed only 1,351 of its troops have died in Ukraine, while NATO put the number of Russian dead last week at between 7,000 and 14,000. “Each side has an incentive to inflate the damage they do, and deflate the damage that’s been done to them,” Stephen Saideman, a professor at Carleton University and director of the Canadian Defense and Security Network, tells CBC News. “It’s part of every war to do that.”
But Sean Maloney, a professor of military history at Canada’s Royal Military College, told CBC News he is “confident, with the sources that I have, that the number of Russians killed in action is above 15,000,” including 31 senior Russian military officers and many highly trained soldiers. The Russians “don’t care about their personnel, their vehicles are not equipped to protect their people,” he said. “I have not seen an armored ambulance this entire war.”
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