An alliance official acknowledged to NBC News that up to 40,000 Russian troops have been killed, injured, captured, or gone missing during the first month of the Kremlin’s conflict in Ukraine.
According to the officer, between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian forces have killed as a result of the ongoing conflict, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to reveal NATO’s newest intelligence assessment.
Russian officials have previously refused to say how many of their men had died in the Ukraine conflict.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, said on Tuesday that revealing such figures is the “exclusive prerogative” of Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
“On the numbers, we agreed from the very beginning that we do not have the authority to voice them during the special military operation,” Peskov said, declining to elaborate further.
The Pentagon has previously dismissed any reports of Russian servicemen being killed or otherwise evacuated from the battlefield.
On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, a senior US defence official said it’s impossible for the Pentagon to provide casualty numbers because the US doesn’t have troops on the ground in Ukraine.
“I’m not going to characterise what the ranges are that we’re looking at because they’re just very broad and we continue to have low confidence in those estimates because we’re not on the ground and can’t see you know what’s really going on on a day to day basis,” said the official, who declined to be named in order to share details from U.S. intelligence reports.
Russian forces, according to the official, are increasingly afflicted by logistics and command and control concerns, as well as morale issues.
“We picked up on indications that some troops were suffering from frostbite and were being taken out of the fight,” the officer said.
According to the official, morale among Russian forces was so low in certain cases that men abandoned their armoured vehicles and walked into the woods.
The US intelligence community estimated earlier this month that up to 4,000 Russian troops had been killed in the Kremlin’s two-week battle in Ukraine.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, gave that amount during an unclassified March 8 session with lawmakers.
“With low confidence, somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000. That number comes from some intelligence sources but also open sources,” Berrier said during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing on “Worldwide Threats.”