More than 75,000 Russian troops – about half of the forces Moscow sent to invade Ukraine in February – were reported killed or injured, a US lawmaker said, as Kyiv stepped up its counteroffensive to retake the occupied region of Kherson.
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Rep. Elissa Slotkin (Democrat of Michigan), who spoke to CNN after attending a classified briefing with officials from President Joe Biden’s administration, said the figure was “huge.”
“We have been informed that more than 75,000 Russians have been killed or injured, which is huge. You have incredible investments in their ground forces, more than 80% of their ground forces are bogged down and they are tired,” a- he added. said Slotkin.
Military casualties are a state secret in Russia, even in peacetime, and there are no updated official figures available on the death toll in the Moscow army. The most recent CIA estimate was that 15,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the fighting.
Slotkin, who recently returned from a trip to Ukraine, said the next three to six weeks could be crucial for the direction the conflict might take.
“I think what we heard very strongly from President [Volodymyr] Zelenskiy and reinforced today is that the Ukrainians really want to hit Russia in the teeth a few times before the winter comes, put them in the best possible position, especially hitting them to the south.” , Slotkin said.
The new figures, if confirmed, would mean heavy losses for Russia as Ukraine continues its counter-offensive in the Russian-occupied southern part of the country to retake the strategic city of Kherson.
The city, which had a population of 290,000 before the war, is currently under a Moscow-appointed administration after falling at the start of the war.
The UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence bulletin early on July 28 that the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson was gaining momentum and “most likely established a bridgehead south of the Ingulets River, which forms the Russian-occupied northern border of Kherson”.
Regaining control of the city would give Ukrainian forces a foothold to reclaim parts of the Black Sea coast.
British intelligence confirmed that the Antonivskiy Bridge near Kherson, which was first damaged last week, was struck again on July 27 “and it is highly likely that the crossing is now unusable”.
Antonivskiy is one of three bridges over the Dnieper damaged by Ukrainian forces with the help of its new long-range artillery. Russia relies on bridges to supply areas under its control.
British intelligence said Kherson, Russia’s most politically important population center, is now “virtually cut off” from other Russian-occupied territories.
Losing Kherson would seriously undermine Russia’s attempts to portray the occupation as a success, British intelligence has said.
A Ukrainian defense official said Russian troops were, in turn, engaged in a massive redeployment in the south of the country, including in the area of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov made the comments on Ukrainian television on July 27. saying redeployments were taking place in the direction of the Kherson, Melitopol and Zaporizhzhya regions, and the Russians were bringing in additional forces.
Danilov also said that Ukraine now receives many weapons from its Western partners.
“What we are getting now is a huge help,” he added.
Weapons provided include United States High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). HIMARS have a longer range and are more accurate than the Soviet-era artillery Ukraine had in its arsenal. Ukrainian officials said their deployment had been critical in the fight to repel Russian troops and strike at their supply lines.
Nataliya Humenyuk, spokesperson for the Southern Operational Command, earlier told Ukrainian television that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had made progress near Kherson.
“The counteroffensive in southern Ukraine is progressing. The Russian army is demoralized,” she said, adding that two villages – Andriyivka and Lozove – had been liberated and Ukrainian forces were reinforcing their positions.
WATCH: Ivan Yevtushenko, a 23-year-old Ukrainian soldier, died in March in the Kyiv region near the village of Moshchun. A direct hit by Russian forces cost him his life and his body could not be identified until recently. His village of Andriyivka bid farewell in a moving funeral on July 26.
In Kherson, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said a policeman was killed and another injured on July 27 by an explosive device planted by Ukraine’s “resistance movement.”
The ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate said the device was detonated by radio control on a street just north of the city center.
Management has recently urged citizens of the Kherson region to reveal where the Muscovite troops lived and which residents were collaborating with the occupation authorities.
Moscow-backed separatists claimed on July 27 that they had taken control of Ukraine’s second-largest coal-fired power plant near the city of Svitlodarsk with the help of Russian mercenaries from the notorious Kremlin-linked Vagner Group.
Oleksiy Arestovych, Ukrainian presidential adviser, said in an interview posted on YouTube that Russia gained “a small tactical advantage” by capturing the Vuhlehirsk power station.