Four Russian brigadier generals have died in three weeks on the battlefield in Ukraine, Kyiv officials said, showing faults in Moscow’s ability to lead troops into battle. The fallout could shape the outcome of the war, according to Ukrainian and Western officials.
The deaths of Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, Gen. Andrei Kolesnikov, Gen. Oleg Mityaev and Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky were announced by Ukrainian officials and confirmed by some Russian media reports, but not the Kremlin. They were veterans of Russia’s earlier conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, where Russia also lost generals.
Grisly photos and celebratory social-media posts allow Kyiv to show some success against a larger and well-funded military.
The Russian military’s fighting style appears to have contributed to the losses, analysts say. Other factors include subpar radio communications and intense fighting, including ambushes by Ukrainian forces near cities. Replacing them with officers with similar experience could prove difficult.
“Their level of small-unit leadership, as they themselves recognize, is not great, which is why you see general officers much more forward in the field” in the Russian army, said Col. John “Buss” Barranco, a U.S. Marine Corps fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.
They are overly dependent on senior people micromanaging from the front because they don’t have the same noncommissioned officer corps to exercise initiative,” he said. [Continue reading…]
In 36 days of fighting on Iwo Jima during World War II, nearly 7,000 Marines were killed. Now, 20 days after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia invaded Ukraine, his military has already lost more soldiers, according to American intelligence estimates.
The conservative side of the estimate, at more than 7,000 Russian troop deaths, is greater than the number of American troops killed over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
It is a staggering number amassed in just three weeks of fighting, American officials say, with implications for the combat effectiveness of Russian units, including soldiers in tank formations. Pentagon officials say a 10 percent casualty rate, including dead and wounded, for a single unit renders it unable to carry out combat-related tasks.
With more than 150,000 Russian troops now involved in the war in Ukraine, Russian casualties, when including the estimated 14,000 to 21,000 injured, are near that level. And the Russian military has also lost at least three generals in the fight, according to Ukrainian, NATO and Russian officials.
Pentagon officials say that a high, and rising, number of war dead can destroy the will to continue fighting. The result, they say, has shown up in intelligence reports that senior officials in the Biden administration read every day: One recent report focused on low morale among Russian troops and described soldiers just parking their vehicles and walking off into the woods.
The American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters, caution that their numbers of Russian troop deaths are inexact, compiled through analysis of the news media, Ukrainian figures (which tend to be high, with the latest at 13,500), Russian figures (which tend to be low, with the latest at 498), satellite imagery and careful perusal of video images of Russian tanks and troops that come under fire. [Continue reading…]