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Russia’s huge total losses as war enters 600th day, according to Kyiv

As the grinding war in Ukraine enters its 600th day, the soldiers filling Russia’s ranks, Moscow’s military equipment and the Russian military‘s resources have taken a battering, with no end to the conflict in sight.

Russia has lost more that 288,000 troops since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Monday.

Detailing a host of other reported losses, Kyiv’s military said the Kremlin’s fighters have lost 4,965 tanks—including 17 in the past 24 hours—9,385 armored personnel vehicles and just shy of 7,000 artillery systems. Total Russian aircraft losses, according to Kyiv, come in at 318, along with more than 5,200 drones, 20 boats and one submarine infamously targeted with cruise missiles in mid-September.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian defense ministry for comment via email.

The grueling conflict in Ukraine has not been kind to the soldiers filling Russian and Ukrainian ranks, and has severely depleted military supplies and ammunition. Both sides have tried to wear the other down in a war of attrition, burning through supplies in the more than 19 months of all-out war. Western countries supporting Kyiv have funneled military aid and equipment to Ukraine, and have attempted to halt Russia’s ability to wage war through waves of sanctions.

Ukraine’s tally of Russian losses is “not unlikely,” although big questions remain about just how many men and resources Russia and Ukraine each have left, said Frederik Mertens, a strategic analyst with the Hague Center for Security Studies.

“Destroying your enemy remains your first priority in battle and Ukraine seems to have done far better than the Russians,” Mertens, told Newsweek. “Otherwise, Kyiv would have been long out of the race already.”

“All we can do is to fight back and to hope that Western sanctions will sooner or later cripple Russian military industry,” Major Viktor Trehubov, who serves in Ukraine’s military, told Newsweek.

However, he said Russia has been able to keep producing “huge amounts of military equipment and weapons,” and can often still access Western parts when needed.”

“That’s why it’s probably not the last offensive of this kind,” Trehubov said.

Ukrainian military losses are also believed to be substantial, although no independent figures are available for either Russia or Ukraine and it is impossible to independently verify losses on both sides. Moscow doesn’t provide a tally for its estimation of Ukrainian casualties, but Russia’s defense ministry said on Monday that it had destroyed 12,673 Ukrainian tanks and other armored vehicles, 6,788 field artillery systems and 491 aircraft.

Russian equipment losses are thought to have been heavy in recent days around the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka that the U.S. think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), has described as a “notoriously well-fortified and defended Ukrainian stronghold.”

Avdiivka has spent a long time on the front lines between Kyiv and Moscow. Around 1,600 residents are still living in the town, Vitaliy Barabash, who heads up its military administration, has previously estimated. It had a pre-war population of around 30,000.

As the Russian assault on Avdiivka got underway, which has been called a major Russian offensive, Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s office, said that the town was “under mass attacks of Russian artillery and aviation.” It is the first significant offensive from Moscow’s forces since Ukraine launched its counteroffensive against Russian positions in southern and eastern Ukraine in early June.

Russian forces likely faced “initial high losses” and a slower-than-hoped pace of advance around Avdiivka, the ISW said on Sunday.

In the week between October 9 and October 16, Ukrainian drones destroyed 88 armored vehicles, 75 tanks, 101 howitzers and cannons and two Russian air defense systems, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said on Monday.

Uncrewed technology “proved to be very efficient in the defense of Avdiivka,” he wrote in a post to X.

Russia’s current offensive around Avdiivka “is severe, but still not successful,” Trehubov said, adding Russia’s slow advance was largely down to the unprecedented effectiveness of Ukrainian combat and reconnaissance UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles].”

Update 10/16/2023 at 11:57 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional comments from Frederik Mertens.

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