Russia taking hundreds of casualties daily in Ukraine war -U.S. official

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Ukrainian service members prepare to shoot from a M777 Howitzer at a front line, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine July 21, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

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WASHINGTON, July 22 (Reuters) - The United States believes Russia's military is suffering hundreds of casualties a day in its war in Ukraine, and with the loss so far of thousands of lieutenants and captains, its chain of command is struggling, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday.

Nearly five months since President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Russia's neighbor, its forces are grinding through the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and occupy around a fifth of the country.

The United States estimates that Russian casualties in Ukraine have reached around 15,000 killed and perhaps 45,000 wounded, CIA Director William Burns said on Wednesday, adding that Ukraine has also endured significant casualties. read more

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The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that in addition to the lieutenants and captains killed, hundreds of colonels and "many" Russian generals had been killed as well.

"The chain of command is still struggling," the official said.

Russia classifies military deaths as state secrets even in times of peace and has not updated its official casualty figures frequently during the war. On March 25 it said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed.

The Kyiv government said in June that 100 to 200 Ukrainian troops were being killed per day.

The United States also believes that Ukraine had destroyed more than 100 "high-value" Russian targets inside Ukraine, including command posts, ammunition depots and air-defense sites, the U.S. official said.

The United States has provided $8.2 billion in security assistance since the war began.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it would provide Ukraine with four additional high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) in the latest weapons package.

On Friday, the White House said that package would be worth $270 million in military aid for Ukraine, including about $100 million for Phoenix "ghost" drones. The drones were designed mainly for striking targets, but little else is known about them, including their range and precise capabilities.

Russia says it is waging a "special operation" to demilitarize its neighbor and rid it of dangerous nationalists.

Kyiv and the West say Russia is mounting an imperialist campaign to reconquer a pro-Western neighbor that broke free of Moscow's rule when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. read more

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Reporting by Idrees Ali and Steve Holland; editing by John Stonestreet, Nick Macfie and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

National security correspondent focusing on the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Reports on U.S. military activity and operations throughout the world and the impact that they have. Has reported from over two dozen countries to include Iraq, Afghanistan, and much of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. From Karachi, Pakistan.