On the military equipment side, Ukraine claims to have disabled some 1,500 Russian combat tanks, 3,600 armored vehicles, 750 artillery pieces or even 210 planes since February 24. “Considerable” figures according to specialists. HANDOUT / AFP One of the main unknowns of the war in Ukraine, as the conflict enters its fifth month of fighting, rests on Russia’s capacity for endurance. A resilience on which the sources are lacking and all the more difficult to assess as the opacity also remains around Ukrainian military capacities and Western arms deliveries. Read also: War in Ukraine live: kyiv withdraws from the city of Sievierodonetsk, after weeks of fighting and “incessant bombing” Officially, the former Red Army has lost very few men since the beginning of the conflict. Its latest report, published on March 25, reported 1,351 soldiers killed and 3,825 wounded. Since then, no indication has been given by Moscow. According to analysts, these losses would actually be ten times greater, at a minimum. “In four months, the Russian army has probably lost more than 10,000 men, estimates Dimitri Minic, researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI). This is considerable, especially in an army that lacks infantry. “Some Russian battalions would have only about thirty men, against 600 to 800 in normal times, says the British Ministry of Defense. The damage is even greater among the auxiliaries from Moscow, sent to the front line in the Donbass. On June 16, the authorities of the “People’s Republic of Donetsk” (DPR) revealed that they had lost 2,128 soldiers since the beginning of the year, to which must be added 8,897 wounded. These losses would represent “about 55%” of the forces of the self-proclaimed republic, according to the British military, which underlined, in a press release published on June 22, “the extraordinary attrition of Russian and pro-Russian forces in the Donbass”. Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers War in Ukraine: threatened with getting bogged down on the ground, kyiv and Moscow are adapting their strategy To replace them, Russia would have few reserves. Analysts say some 200,000 Russian and separatist troops are currently engaged in the fighting, which is a good chunk of the workforce. “80% of the Russian army is already in Ukraine. (…) They don’t have many other forces to mobilise, and those that do are unprofessional, untrained, and can’t be equipped,” said Kori Schake, director of defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute, an American think tank close to conservative circles. Arsenals inherited from the Soviet era Sign of this haemorrhage, Moscow is stepping up initiatives to replenish its battalions. At the end of May, the Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, abolished the age limit for enlisting in the army, previously set at 40 years. From now on, all citizens who have not reached the retirement age, currently set at 61.5 years, can join the ranks of the Russian army. Likewise, the military authorities considerably increased the salaries paid to new recruits. The use of the Chechen forces of Ramzan Kadyrov or the mercenaries of the Wagner Group is also widely documented. You have 60.84% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.
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