Ukraine Situation Report: Russian Casualties “Significantly Well Over 100k” Says Top U.S. General

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered a slightly revised update Friday on the numbers of Russian casualties during the country’s all-out war in Ukraine.

“I would say it’s significantly well over 100,000 now,” he said Friday at a press conference after the wrap-up of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Germany.

A view of debris at the Russian Armed Forces’ temporary deployment location, where scores of Russian troops died after Ukrainian artillery attacks near Makiivka, Ukraine on Jan. 16, 2023. (Photo by Vladimir Aleksandrov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The last time Milley publicly discussed the number of Russian casualties, back in November, he said that “well over” 100,000 had been killed and wounded.

“Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side as well.”

While not offering any further specifics about the Russian casualty numbers or offering any numbers at all about Ukrainian losses, he said “there are significant casualties on both sides.”

“The Russians have suffered a tremendous amount of casualties in their military,” Milley said, “and that includes the regular military and also the mercenaries in the Wagner group, and other types of forces that are fighting with the Russians. They’ve really suffered a lot.”

Ukraine, he said, “has also suffered tremendously. There’s a significant amount of innocent civilians that have been killed as a result of the Russian actions. The Russians are hitting civilian infrastructure. There’s a significant amount of economic damage, a significant amount of damage to the energy infrastructure, and the Ukrainian military has suffered … This is a very, very bloody war.”

The funeral of three Ukrainian servicemen who died in battle – Sehii Yanets, Oleksandr Schavei and Taras Tomachkivskyi – held at the St. Nicholas’ Greek-Catholic church in Kyiv. (Photo by Danylo Antoniuk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

While Milley didn’t offer any figures on Ukrainian casualties, a count Kyiv likes to keep a close hold of, the German newspaper Der Spiegel gave an indication Friday of how deadly one sector of the battlefield is for Ukraine, which is worrying German intelligence officials.

“The foreign intelligence service informed security politicians in the Bundestag in a secret meeting this week that the Ukrainian Army is currently losing a three-digit number of soldiers every day in battles with the Russian invaders” in Bakhmut, according to Der Spiegel.

Russia, meanwhile, has shown the capacity to regenerate its forces, at least in terms of headcount, Milley said.

“You saw that the Russians … called up a mobilization of 300,000” troops. “I think they were able to get 200,000-250,000, something in that range. So they’re replacing their losses in terms of manpower.”

What Milley didn’t get into, and wasn’t asked about, was how many of those troops will eventually be truly combat-worthy.

But because of all the issues he did raise, Milley said there will have to be negotiations to end the conflict.

“Sooner or later, this is going to have to get to a negotiating table at some point in order to bring this to a conclusion, and that will have to happen when the end state, which is a free, sovereign, independent Ukraine with its territory intact, is met,” he said. “When that day comes, then people will sit down and negotiate an end to this.”

Before The War Zone readers dive into the rest of the most recent updates on the ongoing conflict below, they can also first get up to speed on recent developments through our previous rolling coverage here.

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On the battlefront, with the exception of portions of Donetsk Oblast, the situation is largely static, Milley said.

“This is a very, very difficult fight,” he said. “The front line goes from all the way from Kharkiv down to Kherson, and there’s significant fighting ongoing. And it’s more or less a static front line right this minute, with the exception of Bakhmut and Soledar [in Donetsk Oblast], with a significant offensive action going on really from both sides.”

Not surprisingly, the two sides differ in their assessment of what’s taking place in Donetsk.

Both the Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) and the pro-Russian Rybar Telegram channel claimed that the small town of Klischiivka, about five miles south of Bakhmut, has been captured.

Rybar added that in Bakhmut, “fierce clashes continue on the southern and eastern outskirts of the city.”

Units of the Wagner mercenary group “storm the positions of Ukrainian formations in the area of the meat processing plant.”

In Soledar, Wagner “assault detachments…are fighting with Ukrainian formations at the Krasnopolye-Razdolovka-Veseloye line, and are also advancing in the direction of Blagodatny,” Rybar said.

Southwest of Soledar, “Russian troops have entrenched themselves on the northern outskirts of Krasnaya Gora and are moving into the center of the settlement. Enemy artillery randomly fires at Soledar and its environs: during one of the strikes, military commander Anastasia Yelsukova was injured.”

Medics of the Ukrainian Army evacuate a wounded soldier on a road near Soledar. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov / AFP) (Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The Ukrainian MoD was much more circumspect in its assessment.

“In the direction of Bakhmut, Verkhnokamyanske, Spirnye, Bilogorivka, Rozdolivka, Soledar, Bakhmut, Chasiv Yar, Klishchiivka, Bila Gora, Severnye, Zalizne and Mayorsk of the Donetsk region were damaged by fire,” the Ukrainian MoD said on its Telegram channel, indicating that there are at least some Ukrainian troops in or near Klischiivka.

However, Ukraine’s Armed Forces say they destroyed a Wagner headquarters and field depot in Soledar, according to the press office of the 45th Separate Artillery Brigade which published this video of an artillery strike on Facebook on January 20.

“The Armed Forces hit the headquarters and field staff of the Wagnerites in Soledar,” the brigade wrote on its Telegram channel. “The occupiers use residential buildings and yards as headquarters and warehouses, but our gunners see everything.”

That brigade also managed to strike at Russian troops in Soledar with drones, as you can see in this video below.

The battle for Bakhmut is causing trouble for Ukraine while Russia doesn’t seem to mind massive losses, Der Spiegel reported.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) “warned that taking Bakhmut by the Russians would have serious consequences, as it would allow Russia to make further advances inland,” the newspaper reported. “The BND also reported that the Russian Army was acting with merciless severity at Bakhmut. The briefing said that Russia is currently throwing soldiers forward like cannon fodder, and that high losses in its own armed forces apparently played no role in the Russian war tactics.”

Speaking of those tactics, the Russians are apparently not just doing that in Donetsk, as these pictures seem to show of waves of them getting cut down by Ukrainian snipers in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

And speaking of Wagner, the U.S. Treasury Department will impose additional sanctions on that group, according to The Associated Press.

Treasury will designate Wagner as a transnational criminal organization in the coming days, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced Friday. He said the designation will allow the administration to hit Wagner with tougher sanctions and squeeze its ability to do business around the world.

The White House, AP reported, also released images of Russia taking delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea that it said was intended to help bolster Wagner forces in Ukraine. Last month, the Biden administration first accused North Korea of providing infantry rockets and missiles to Russia. North Korea has denied assisting Russia.

Ammunition supplies are a major issue on both sides, with Russia going to North Korea for shells and other materiel and NATO pulling from every resource available to keep Ukraine armed.

Defense Secretary Austin stated the following today in Germany:

“Russia is running out of ammunition. It’s suffering significant battle losses. And it’s turning to its few remaining partners to resupply its tragic and unnecessary invasion. And even Iran and North Korea won’t admit that they are supplying Russia. Just compare that to the groundswell of support for a free and sovereign Ukraine represented in this room.”

This morning, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group of some 50 nations working to arm Ukraine in its fight against Russia wrapped up with no new announcement of modern western tanks being provided. You can read more about that here.

The news apparently didn’t sit well in Germany, where thousands of Germans gathered in Berlin to urge the government to allow Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine.

Yesterday, we wrote about air defense systems being set up in Moscow. Well, apparently they’ve also been set up near Vladimir Putin’s bunker.

And finally, back in April, we interviewed a member of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment forces which were holding out against the Russians at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. The plant was utterly destroyed and captured, but the fight pinned down Russian forces, allowing Ukraine to advance elsewhere. Here is a view of how it looks today.

That’s it for now. We will update this story if there is anything major to add.

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Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.