Russian state TV hosts react to Putin's territory comments
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Russian troops launched their first assault on Ukraine on February 24, striking fear into Europe with its largest scale conflict since World War Two. Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration put up unexpectedly fierce resistance and has drawn out the assault by months, costing Vladimir Putin domestically and internationally. Plying the Russian army with resources while the economy is hobbled by sanctions will prove costly for Putin, and may determine how long he can pursue his military objectives in Ukraine.
How long can Vladimir Putin continue invading Ukraine?
Putin’s now more than three month long invasion started when Russia was a mammoth world power and an integral part of Europe’s energy network.
His country has lost much of its business with the west since February and become an international pariah.
The longer the country stays in Ukraine, the more troops it loses, and the latest figures show its losses exceed Mr Zelensky’s.
Ukraine estimates that 10,000 of its own soldiers have died since the invasion began in February, but Russia may have lost 50 percent more.
In May, the UK Ministry of Defence said more soldiers have died in Ukraine than during the 1979 war in Afghanistan.
The total estimated dead on Russia’s side is 15,000, with most casualties due to a mix of missteps.
These include “poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility and a command approach which is prepared to reinforce failure and repeat mistakes”.
Other estimates of Russia’s total casualties differ significantly, with the Ukrainian army suggesting the country has lost more than double the UK’s reported total.
On May 31, the army said 30,500 Russian soldiers had died in the conflict, with roughly 150 dying a day.
The army also estimated the country had destroyed the following vehicles and munitions:
Armoured vehicles: 3,302
Rocket launchers: 207
Air-defence systems: 93
Ships and light boats: 13
Unmanned aerial vehicles: 515
Cruise missiles: 120
Russia has provided a far lower estimate of its losses, suggesting only 3,000 soldiers had died as of May 31.
While it is impossible to estimate an entirely accurate total, the UK’s more conservative estimates are likely closer to the truth, given that Russia and Ukraine gain from exaggerating either way, despite being closer to the conflict.
They are a tenth of Russia’s 150,000 troop strong invasion force, which would number the country’s days in Ukraine if this was the upper limit of its available fighters.
But Russia has more soldiers waiting in the wings, an expansive arsenal and still significant capital to keep it going.
Russia’s army is the world’s fifth-largest, with approximately 1.14 million active personnel.
Putin also has a considerable reserve to keep it well-staffed, with another two million soldiers waiting in the wings.
The Russian premier has suggested he is willing to use other weapons, including nuclear warheads, to win the war in Ukraine.
With the world’s largest stock of 5,977 under his control, the country is likely prepared to wage a war of attrition in Ukraine.
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