EDF colonel: Ukraine's troop losses several times lower than Russia's

Col. Janno Märk.
Col. Janno Märk. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The number of troop losses Russia has incurred in the war so far have been significantly greater than those suffered by Ukraine, said Col. Janno Märk, head of planning for the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Headquarters. Speaking on ETV show "Ukraina stuudio," Col. Märk said that there have been no significant changes to the front line in Ukraine over the past week.

Russian troops are still actively attacking in the Donetsk Oblast in the vicinity of Avdiivka and Marinka, and have made some progress in the industrial areas to the north and southeast of Avdiivka. They are also attacking around Bakhmut, both to the north and south. However, according to Col. Märk, Russian troops have not made much progress in those areas. They are also attacking along the Kupiansk, Svatove and Kreminna lines.

While Ukraine has carried out localized attacks near Bakhmut, the front line has not moved. Ukraine has also continued localized attacks in the Verbove region of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, but also without much success.

Märk added that, on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, where Ukrainian troops began their operations more than a month ago, Ukraine has managed to expand its bridgeheads. "So far, around 30 kilometers northeast of the city of Kherson, the river crossing is around two to three kilometers, and 15 kilometers southeast of Kherson, the river crossing is up to four kilometers. The immediate objective of this operation is to push the Russian Federation forces out so that they do not extend their artillery systems to the city of Kherson and the surrounding settlements. The 152mm artillery system, which is the one mainly used by the Russian troops, has an effective range of 25 kilometers," the colonel explained.

Märk said that the Russian troops have been working hard to prevent Ukraine gaining control of more bridgeheads over the Dnipro River and from bringing additional troops there. Russian troop losses there are also very high, he said. "The losses during this four-week period are estimated to be in the region of 3,500 Russian soldiers, including both wounded and killed. And that has already forced the Russian command to redirect units from other fronts to this area," the colonel said.

Ukraine claims that Russia has lost more than 300,000 troops since the full-scale invasion began last February. The Economist estimates that around 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 120,000 injured. According to Col. Märk, it is difficult to speculate on the precise number of casualties, though the losses for both sides are very high. However, he added, the losses suffered by the aggressor are higher.

"Obviously, the losses on the Ukrainian side are high and on the Russian side they are much higher. It is the attacking side that has suffered the greatest losses. And that is partly down to the choice of tactics. The armed forces of the Russian Federation do not count human lives, while for the Ukrainian forces, human life is very important. There are certainly differences in tactical behavior as a result of that too. Ukraine's losses are definitely several times lower than those of the Russian Federation," he said.

Märk said that Ukraine's counter-offensive, which has now been going on for around five months, has not brought the success that had been hoped for, with Ukrainian troops aiming to have reached the edge of the Crimean Peninsula by now.

According to Col. Märk, there are several reasons for the delay.

"The war has entered a phase of static positioning and attrition warfare. This is also the biggest risk, as outlined by Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi (Commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces) (in The Economist), that if war of attrition like this, a static war, continues for years, it will eventually exhaust not only the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but the entire country," Märk said.

"There are a number of reasons why we are in this situation. One is certainly Western military assistance, which has perhaps been sufficient to keep Ukraine at war, but not to achieve decisive success. The second, which Zaluzhnyi points out, is the development of technology. He cites drones and intelligence tools in particular, which have created a situation where the Ukrainian side knows exactly what the enemy is doing and the enemy knows exactly what Ukraine is doing. It is very difficult to concentrate and mobilize large units, because the enemy can see it and they will call in indirect fire. It's more about small units, and that's part of the problem," Märk explained.

"Another big part of the problem is that the Russian Federation continues to have a very large level of superiority in terms of weaponry, equipment, missiles, ammunition and manpower. All these factors combined have turned this war into a kind of static positional war. This situation is certainly not good from Ukraine's perspective and is more advantageous to the Russian Federation," he added.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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