One Russian was killed for every 48cm of land captured by Vladimir Putin’s forces during the siege of Bakhmut
- Russia claimed last month it had taken control of a besieged city in eastern Ukraine
- However, Ukrainian army leaders said they still controlled parts of the city
- Defense Ministry officials made an estimate after numerous reports of heavy Russian casualties
One Russian soldier was killed for every 48cm (19in) of land captured by Vladimir Putin’s forces in Bakhmut, the UK Ministry of Defense has estimated.
Russia claimed last month it had taken control of the beleaguered city in eastern Ukraine, the scene of some of the worst fighting since Putin invaded the country 15 months ago.
However, Ukrainian army leaders dismissed this claim, saying they still controlled parts of the city in the southwest.
Defense Ministry officials made their estimate after numerous reports claimed that Russia had suffered heavy casualties at Bakhmut.
European governments believe Russia lost more than 20,000 troops, half of them Wagner Group militia mercenaries, and more than 60,000 were injured – a figure the US says could be as high as 100 000.
An aerial view of heavy fighting in the Bakhmut region of eastern Ukraine, taken last month, when the Ministry of Defense estimated that one Russian soldier was killed for every 48 cm (19 in) of land captured by Vladimir Putin’s forces
A Ukrainian serviceman looks out from a trench near Bakhmut on May 30, where heavy fighting cost the Russians one soldier for every 48cm advance
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this week that a long-awaited counteroffensive by his forces against Russian occupation troops was imminent.
Last week, Western officials revealed that Bakhmut – a town covering 16 square miles with a pre-war population of just over 73,000 – was costing the Russians a soldier for every 48cm advance.
One said: “It’s basically the First World War, where we saw waves of infantry, in many cases not supported by combined arms, coming up against defensive positions and, in many cases, literally being shot.”
He added that the massive casualties would have a “collective psychological impact on the Russian forces themselves” and will also likely affect Russian society once the figures are known”. Yevgeny Prigozhin, boss of the Wagner Group, said half of his men who died at Bakhmut were Russian convicts recruited to fight in the war.
He said 99% of his men had left Bakhmut and handed over control to Russian troops.
Last night, after visiting his troops in the region, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, said Russia was still losing troops there.
In a message on the Telegram app, he wrote: “The enemy continues to suffer heavy losses in the direction of Bakhmut.” Ukraine’s defense forces continue to fight. We will win.’
On Thursday, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Russia wanted to create a sense of calm around Bakhmut, but shelling was still at levels similar to those at the height of the battle to take the town. .
Suspected Ukrainian attacks continued in Russia over the weekend, with two people killed and six injured on Friday after shelling in the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine.
In the Kursk region, a suspected Ukrainian drone attack damaged several buildings, while officials in neighboring Bryansk also reported shelling.
Yesterday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Wall Street Journal that a long-awaited counteroffensive by his forces against Russian occupation troops was imminent.
He said: “We firmly believe that we will succeed. I don’t know how long it will take.
News of Russia’s heavy casualties came as it emerged yesterday that a 22-year-old Ukrainian footballer had been killed in action.
The country’s defense ministry said Mykola Zhydkov, who played for Polish club LKS Wegrzanka, returned to his native country seven months ago to fight.