Zelenskyy says 31,000 Ukrainian troops killed in rare admission of military losses

Semafor Signals

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Insights from The New York Times, The Kyiv Independent, Semafor, the Associated Press, and Reuters

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia’s full-scale invasion of his country two years ago, a rare admission about battlefield losses as both sides typically avoid public remarks about military setbacks.

Zelenskyy would not reveal how many Ukrainian troops had been wounded, saying the information would help Russia.

SIGNALS

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US estimates death toll is much higher

Source:  The New York Times

Washington believes the human cost of the war is higher than Kyiv has indicated. U.S. officials estimated last summer that 70,000 Ukrainian troops had died. That figure surpasses the number of deaths the U.S. saw during the Vietnam War, The New York Times noted. The high number of casualties could be making Ukraine risk-averse as the war continues, the paper said: “Almost any big push against dug-in Russian defenders protected by minefields would result in huge numbers of losses,” the Times said, and as a result, Ukraine may have faltered during its largely unsuccessful counteroffensive.

Lack of aid from the West impacting war trajectory

Source:  The Kyiv Independent

Faltering support from Western superpowers is affecting how Ukrainians are able to manage the war, an editorial in The Kyiv Independent argued. Fears over Russian escalations have held leaders back from offering more aid to the beleaguered nation, and in the U.S., debates over the scale of a funding package for Kyiv has turned into a political football. “Those delays are measured in the lives of Ukrainians gone forever,” the outlet said, and has led to a painful reckoning amongst Ukrainians. “Could the West let Ukraine fall – if not on purpose, but due to sheer neglect and breakdown of their resolve – and face the consequences of the whole world order collapsing?” it asked.

Russian capture of Avdiivka signals new offensive push

Sources:  Semafor, The Associated Press, Reuters

Russian troops took the eastern town of Avdiivka earlier this month, the largest military gain for Moscow since the fall of Bakhmut in May. Russia stepped up its attacks against Ukrainian troops in the days following the capture, signaling that it was intensifying an offensive push. Ukrainian officials said in the days ahead of the battle that they were struggling with personnel and equipment shortages, the Associated Press reported. But Zelenskyy has repeatedly downplayed the loss of Avdiivka, pointing to other recent wins as evidence that his nation was able to hold firm in a recent interview with Fox News. “During these two years we got (back) part of the Kharkiv region ... and we unblocked the Black Sea,” he said. “That is what we did over two years. And what [could Russia] do? Only this one place.”