A Ukrainian soldiers

US Official: Russia Suffers Staggering Losses Despite Ukraine’s Supply Shortages

February 17, 2024
2 mins read

A senior U.S. defense official Friday revealed staggering Russian losses from Moscow’s brutal war in Ukraine, citing 315,000 Russians killed or wounded, at least 20 Russian navy vessels sunk, and up to $211 billion in direct financial costs to supply and sustain its military operations.

Russia has also lost an estimated $10 billion in postponed or canceled arms sales, along with another $1.3 trillion in previously anticipated economic growth through 2026, according to the U.S. official.

The casualty numbers mirror a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment that was first shared with Congress in December.

Ukraine’s military on Wednesday said it had used high-tech naval drones to sink a Russian landing ship in the Black Sea. Russian authorities did not immediately comment.

The attack served as another example of “Ukraine being able to protect its coastline” and “enable grain shipments and other shipments like iron ore to keep the Ukraine economy running” and sustain its military operations, the official said.

But while Ukrainian forces have seen successes against the Russian navy, Russian ground forces have continued to make gains in the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka.

Reports from the ground said Ukrainian forces have struggled with ammunition shortages and could be forced to pull back.

“We do see that Ukrainians are running short on critical supplies, particularly ammunition, and we see this as something that could be the harbinger of what is to come if we do not get this supplemental funding,” the senior defense official said.

The official said without resupply abilities from the United States, other critical locations along Ukraine’s forward line of troops could also run low on supplies, along with the air defense interceptors needed to protect major population centers.

FILE - In this image from video released by the Russia Emergency Situations Ministry’s Telegram channel, Dec. 30, 2023, firefighters respond to burning cars after shelling in Belgorod, Russia. A missile attack on the city that day killed 25 and hurt 109.
FILE – In this image from video released by the Russia Emergency Situations Ministry’s Telegram channel, Dec. 30, 2023, firefighters respond to burning cars after shelling in Belgorod, Russia. A missile attack on the city that day killed 25 and hurt 109.

The U.S. has not sent a new round of aid to Ukraine since late December, when funding ran out. The Senate passed a new bill that includes more than $60 billion for Ukraine that appears to have bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, but the legislation faces opposition from House Republican leaders who currently control the House’s agenda.

NATO allies account for 99% of military aid to Kyiv and have stepped up their support in recent weeks, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“They will continue to do that,” Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, said this week. “But the United States has provided a significant share of that, and that hole cannot be fully filled by other allies and partners. And we need to stare that truth square in the face.”

According to NATO, the United States has provided Ukraine with around $75 billion in military, financial and humanitarian aid since Russia’s invasion, while other NATO allies and partners have provided more than $100 billion.

Despite a lack of additional funding from Congress, the production and delivery of some munitions and equipment to Ukraine remains “ongoing” in accordance with the terms of previously awarded contracts under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI, Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Jurgensen told VOA. This includes artillery rounds, missiles for multiple launch rocket systems, air defense and other capabilities.

Unlike the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which allows the Department of Defense to immediately deliver equipment and weapons to Ukraine from its own stocks, USAI allows the United States to procure more long-term capability needs from industry. At this point, both PDA funding for immediate stockpile withdrawals and USAI funding for future contracts have run dry.

The U.S. is currently producing about 28,000 155 mm rounds per month but is on a glide slope to ramp up production to 70,000-80,000 per month by the end of 2024, Jurgensen added. USAI funding is currently being used for the production of 155 mm rounds.

But, he said, the Defense Department will be unable to achieve its further objective of producing 100,000 155 mm rounds per month without additional funding. Operating on continuing resolutions because of Congress’ failure to pass new funding bills, he added, is likely to further limit the department’s ability to increase capacity for critical missile capabilities.

VOA’s Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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