Russia has not released updated figures of its losses, but a NATO official told NBC News that the organization currently estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops have died in the past four weeks of war. Adding in Russian troops who have been injured, captured or gone missing, the number could be as high as 30,000 to 40,000, the official said.
Ukraine has been disfigured by the war. Northern cities such as Kharkiv lie in ruin. Mariupol, in the south, is still under siege.
The United Nations humanitarian office officially confirmed more than 2,500 civilian casualties, including dead and wounded, but acknowledges that the total number is likely much higher.
‘This is not collateral damage’
Most experts in the West agree that such a relentless assault was not Russia’s original plan, but rather the one it eventually settled on as a product of bad planning and execution by its military.
Having already annexed Crimea and supported separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Putin wanted a swift victory, according to experts analyzing Russia’s military moves and his public statements. They believe he intended to quickly seize Ukrainian cities, removing the government and installing a puppet regime.
After five days, it was obvious this was not going to happen, according to Giles and others.
Instead, Ukraine has inflicted heavy losses on a Russian force seemingly underprepared for a long, tough fight.
In response to this struggle, Putin has pivoted to what experts say is a tried, tested and merciless plan B: bombing civilians into submission.
“The Russian brutality has really surprised me,” said Hanna Shelest, a director at the Ukrainian Prism think tank, who lives in the southern city of Odesa. “This is not collateral damage; it’s deliberate.”
The Kremlin rejects this and says its campaign is going well. But it also denies it is waging a war at all, instead calling it a “special military operation” to remove Ukraine’s “neo-Nazi” government and prevent a “genocide” of ethnic Russians — neither of which are true.
Some see Moscow entering into peace talks with Kyiv as proof that it is trying to seek an off-ramp to its failed military objectives.