According to a collection of alleged U.S. intelligence documents that have been posted online, as many as 354,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured in the ongoing Ukraine war.
These documents, if genuine, provide a unique insight into Washington’s perspective on Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II, including secret U.S. assessments of the war and some U.S. espionage against allies.
Although some countries, including Russia and Ukraine, have questioned the veracity of the documents, Reuters has not been able to independently verify them. Additionally, U.S. officials have claimed that some of the files appear to have been tampered with.
One of the assessments, dated February 23, 2023, is titled “Battle for the Donbas Region Likely Heading for a Stalemate Throughout 2023,” and it states that Russia is unlikely to be able to take that part of east Ukraine.
The document suggests that Russia’s grinding campaign of attrition in the Donbas region will ultimately lead to a stalemate, thwarting Moscow’s aim to capture the entire region this year.
This outcome, according to the assessment, will exhaust Russian units and frustrate Moscow’s war aims, resulting in a protracted conflict beyond 2023.
According to a U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency assessment, Russia has suffered 189,500-223,000 total casualties, including 35,500-43,000 killed in action and 154,000-180,000 wounded, while Ukraine has suffered 124,500-131,000 total casualties, including 15,500-17,500 killed in action and 109,000-113,500 wounded in action.
These numbers are about ten times higher than any publicly available casualty figures published by either Moscow or Kyiv. However, neither side discloses timely data on military losses.
One U.S. document posted on Russian Telegram channels had the casualty figures crudely altered to reduce Russian casualties and increase Ukrainian casualties, indicating that some of the files have been tampered with.
Despite Russia’s overall numerical superiority in some areas, Ukraine has more tanks and armoured personnel carriers in theatre than Russia, as per the documents. Russia has lost 2,048 tanks and 3,900 APCs, whereas Ukraine has lost 468 tanks and 1,020 APCs.
Currently, Ukraine has 802 tanks and 3,498 APCs fielded, while Russia has 419 tanks and 2,928 APCs in theatre. The documents also indicate that Russia has superiority in fighters and air defences.
The U.S. documents further reveal Washington’s concerns about potential Ukrainian strikes deep into Russia, including on Moscow. The impact of such attacks on China’s position could lead China to respond more strongly and increase the scale and scope of material it is willing to provide Russia. China’s stance is important to the U.S., which appears to be wary of stirring China.
The documents have been classified as Secret and Top Secret and provide detailed information about Ukrainian military vulnerabilities and allies such as Israel, South Korea, and Turkey.
Although their authenticity remains uncertain, if true, these documents represent a valuable source of intelligence for policymakers seeking to understand the situation in Ukraine.