Friday, June 21, 2024

Putin claims Ukrainian losses five times higher than Russia

The Armed Forces of Ukraine are losing at least 50,000 service personnel a month, five times more than the Russian military, President Vladimir Putin has claimed.

Putin was speaking with reporters from international news agencies on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

“According to our estimates, the Ukrainian army loses about 50,000 people every month,” Putin said in response to a question, adding that the ratio of sanitary and irrecoverable casualties was “about 50-50.”

While not specifying the number of Russian casualties, Putin said the number of irrecoverable losses was at least five times less than those incurred by Kiev’s forces. There are currently 1,348 Russian servicemen held in Ukraine as prisoners of war, while 6,465 Ukrainian servicemen are in Russian captivity, the president revealed.

Ukraine is capable of mobilizing about 30,000 troops a month and “there aren’t very many volunteers,” Putin explained.

“It doesn’t solve the problem,” the Russian leader said, “All of the people they are able to mobilize go to replace the battlefield losses.”

It is “an open secret” in Ukraine that the push to lower the age of conscription has come from the US, Putin added.

In April, Kiev amended the rules to allow the drafting of 25-year-olds, down from the previous threshold of 27. According to Putin, Washington wants to revise it to 23, “then to 18, or maybe directly to 18,” and has already convinced Ukraine to require 17-year-olds to register for mobilization.

The acute shortage of frontline troops has driven Kiev to consider accepting deserters who have chosen to return to the battlefield, according to an instruction from the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to AFU commander-in-chief Aleksandr Syrsky, published on Wednesday.

Russia is considering “asymmetric” measures against Kiev’s sponsors due to Ukraine’s use of Western-supplied weapons against its territory, Putin said.

“We have no illusions in this regard,” Putin added, repeating his prior comments that Ukrainian troops might be pulling the trigger but the US and its allies are providing the intelligence and targeting information.

Russia will respond by boosting air defenses and destroying these missiles, he continued.

“Secondly, if someone deems it possible to supply such weapons to the war zone, to strike our territory… why shouldn’t we supply similar weapons to those regions of the world, where they will be used against sensitive sites of these countries?” the Russian president added.

“We can respond asymmetrically. We will give it a thought.”

If the West continues to escalate, such actions “will completely destroy international relations and undermine international security,” Putin noted.

“If we see that these countries are being drawn into a war against us, and this is their direct participation in the war against Russia, then we reserve the right to act in a similar way. This is a recipe for very serious problems,” he warned.

The Russian president also brought up the fact that some military instructors and advisers from NATO countries have already been deployed to Ukraine, and that a number of them were killed in Russian strikes.

The US and its allies have insisted that providing weapons and equipment to Ukraine does not make them party to the conflict with Russia, and maintained certain restrictions on their use to preserve that perception. Last month, however, as Russian troops began advancing towards Kharkov, Ukraine began to demand the relaxation of those rules. A British-led pressure campaign eventually resulted in Washington complying with Kiev’s wishes.

The tragic events currently unfolding in Ukraine started with the US-backed 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev, Putin stated, stressing that the West is to blame for the conflict.

“Everyone [in the West] believes that Russia started the war in Ukraine. But no one – I want to emphasize this – no one in the West, in Europe, wants to remember how this tragedy began,” the president said.

“It began with a coup in Ukraine – an unconstitutional coup d’etat. This is the beginning of the war. Well, is Russia to blame for this coup? No.”

The Russian leader pointed out that everyone seems to have forgotten how the foreign ministers of Poland, Germany and France arrived in Kiev and signed the Minsk agreements as guarantors on peacefully resolving the crisis in Ukraine.

These countries now prefer not to remember this, instead they decided to resolve the conflict by use of arms against civilians in Eastern Ukraine, Putin added.

“No one planned to execute the Minsk agreements, they publicly state they are not going to implement it,” the Russian president stressed, adding, “We were deceived.”

According to Putin, following the coup, Moscow made every attempt to settle the bloodshed in Donbass “by peaceful means.”

Following the US-backed coup, the then-Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, known as Donbass, with predominantly Russian-speaking populations refused to accept the new government, which increasingly embraced nationalist ideology. The regions proclaimed their independence and Kiev responded with a military campaign that led to a years-long conflict.

“We recognized people who voted to be independent,” Putin stressed.

Asked about Western arms supply to Ukraine, the Russian leader called it a direct participation in the conflict which will ultimately completely destroy global relations and undermine international security. Russia reserves the right to respond in a similar way, according to the president.

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