As the war in Ukraine approaches its 15th month, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” is set to surpass yet another ominous milestone by the end of the week – 190,000 Russian soldiers killed in action. According to the Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, as of April 28 the number of dead Russian soldiers is 189,460. The total number of Putin’s soldiers killed in action will soon equal the total number of Russian troops committed in the initial full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022 – 190,000.

And to think, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley gave the Ukraine army less than 72 hours.

It took just 15 months for the Russian death toll to equal the number of forces they committed to the initial invasion. By comparison, over the course of 21 years, the United States lost 58,220 Americans in the Vietnam War between June 1954 and April 1975. Russia, in contrast, only saw 14,500 soldiers die in Afghanistan between December 1979 to February 1989; that number is 1,190 less than the official death count released by the Soviet Union in 1988 of 13,310.


When you take into consideration the ratio of wounded soldiers to those killed in action, historically around 3:1, then another 568,380 Russian soldiers, at a minimum, have been wounded in action. That number starkly explains the partial mobilization in September 2022 and subsequent mobilizations since – upwards of 500,000.

Why Russia Cannot be Allowed to Win Against Ukraine
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Why Russia Cannot be Allowed to Win Against Ukraine

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The cost in lives, on the Russian side of the equation, is unprecedented, and yet Putin and his generals continue to feed Russian soldiers into the Ukrainian “meat grinder.” In the Donetsk region area alone, over 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since Jan. 1.

Why Donetsk, and especially why Bakhmut, since the small salt mining town is of little strategic significance? According to Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, “This is the only place where they have had some tactical success, despite huge losses. And against the background of the lack of success elsewhere, they face the problem that even their ‘deceived’ society needs to show something, some kind of victory. This is the only place where they can do something.”


Budanov went on to add that Wagner Group founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, once said he would take Bakhmut – making it essential, at least from the Kremlin’s point of view, that the Russian army capture the town. The growing animosity between the two groups contributed to an exchange of gunfire between Wagner Group forces and the Russian military in the Luhansk Oblast on April 23.

The sheer number of Russian losses is numbing, but the loss in military experience and training are irreplaceable in the short term. As it is, the Russian military has never been known for having a strong noncommissioned officer corps – the backbone of any army, or an adequate training regime to incorporate new soldiers into the ranks. Replacing casualties with fresh bodies in the form of mobilized reservists or conscripts does not reconstitute these once ‘elite’ formations – the Spetsnaz, Russian Airborne Forces (Vozdushno-desantnye voyska Rossii, VDV) and Naval Infantry. One such unit, the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade, has been reconstituted on multiple occasions after battlefield defeats in Kyiv, Bucha, Irpin, Pavlivka, and is now best known for its dismal performance in Vuhledar in February.


The conventional Russian military is running on empty and awaiting the inevitable – the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Defensive positions have been prepared and trenches are being filled with the next round of replacements. Meanwhile in Moscow, Putin’s brain trust hides behind threats of nuclear escalation and propagandists’ excuses, while general officers stay clear of open windows. When the offensive begins, 190,000 will rapidly transition to 200,000.

Now, more than ever, is the propitious time for the Biden administration to fully commit to Ukraine and bring a decisive end to this war – to win! That means providing President Volodymyr Zelensky and his generals the combined arms capability they need – precision deep strike capability afforded by ATACMS and F16s, to expel Russian ground forces from all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.

Reports that Ukraine refrained from launching deep strikes into Russia on the anniversary of the invasion because “the White House had long worried that attacks inside Russia could provoke an aggressive response from the Kremlin” reinforces the perception, held by many, that the Biden Administration is afraid to win or afraid of what could happen if the counteroffensive falls short.


One thing is for sure, though, you will never know if you do not take the shot, and sadly, the Biden Administration is content to hold the ball and let the clock run out. Indecision is a decision.

Putin’s army in Ukraine is running on empty and the Biden Administration is needlessly giving them time to reconstitute their forces and prepare defensive fortifications. Fear of winning should have no place in American thinking.

Infuriatingly, however, it is becoming all too indicative of the Biden Administration’s approach to “managing” the war in Ukraine. While Putin is running on empty troop-wise, President Joe Biden and his National Security Advisors appear to be running on empty when it comes to closing out Putin and his generals.

 The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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Comments (8)
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@Terry, Interesting. Could you expand on this a bit more.
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It is completely idiot not to hear the russian reasons going to war. If Russia was wrong in initiating that war, those who pushed Russia to make war are much more responsible.
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I believe that the author mistakenly blames President Biden when instead he should be blaming Germany, France, and other allied partners.

President Biden has had to work by building a consensus among the allied nations. He has only supplied US Military weapons that all of the other allies were comfortable with providing. To do otherwise would largely shatter the allies into splinter groups and then only a few nations would be part of the coalition.

My view is that President Biden has done a truly amazing job of building this coalition - but only by agreeing not to "go it alone" on what the USA does.

Please note that President Biden has stated that the USA is not preventing other countries from providing F-16's or other advanced aircraft to Ukraine. I understand that there have been about 4500 F-16's produced, and most of the active ones are not in the US Air-force. The F-16 makes the most sense as there are so many of them, spare parts and knowledgeable contractors are numerous, and the production lines are still running. Many older ones are available for purchase and could relatively quickly be returned to service.

Why have not the other countries stepped up to approve the F-16 for Ukraine - even if they themselves do not have any?
Marco Levytsky
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Russia did not lose 14,500 men in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union did and a large percentage of those who died were Ukrainians.
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Far from insightful I'm afraid.
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Indecision is the best Biden can do. He's destroyed the USA

Brad Alex Littlepage
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@Greg, We must be unified as citizens of the USA. We are at war! Biden is getting the job done. Fight on Ukraine!!! We are with you!!!

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@Brad Alex Littlepage, I agree Brad. Too many Americans have allowed themselves to become too mired in recent divisive domestic politics to think clearly and judge anything objectively any more. Some have got in so deep they have become in effect anti-American, though no doubt they regard themselves as 'patriots'.
The irony of it is that from what I observed at the time it was Russian propagandists that created and nurtured this division from back in 2016 and are loving the ensuing chaos that has had some successes in undermining US democracy, its international reputation and its unity of purpose, plunging many Americans into the same state of political confusion as their own fully propagandised people..
Fortunately the majority of Americans (and others around the world) see straight through the nonsense and are steadfast in their loyalty to their country, their President and their support for Ukraine.

Thomas Taylor
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The combat losses mentioned by UAF include dead but also wounded, captured and missing orcs. You can't simply triple that estimated number due to some thumb rule, claiming those 190k are all dead. Sadly.
If RuZZia really lost half a million people, then the partial mobilization from fall last year had to have drafted at least a million people, seeing how 200k (initial strike force) + ~300-500k (current occupying force) + 500k combat losses.
Tom Sanders
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I believe this is an accurate assessment of the Biden administrations "plan" for this war. What the Biden administration does not realize is that the truth will eventually be known. The Biden administrations indecisiveness and lack of courage has emboldened Putin and his henchmen to continue this war. They must share responsibility for the death of civilians and innocent children not to mention the the thousands of heroic Ukrainian soldiers that will die as a result of the Biden administrations indecisiveness and lack of moral fortitude. Paraphrasing President Zelensky, every delay costs lives.

Gerhard Brunjewerte
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@Tom Sanders, Strangely, the americans, after pushing Ukraine to defend the peace in the european contries and the North, are stopping short on the final boost to give Ukraine and the World a victory. Everybody is waiting that the americans wake up and, have the courage to the final step in providing suffisant air defense to stop the bloodshead ( what a paradox!). Somber presage!

Mary Kobziar
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@Gerhard Brunjewerte,