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Avdiivka Update: Russia’s ‘Very Big’ Losses Leaked by Army Volunteer

A volunteer with Russia’s military has leaked the number of troop losses suffered by Moscow in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region in a rare admission, according to video circulating on social media.

“A Russian army volunteer supplier came to a Russian church to ask for donations. While speaking, he accidentally voiced out the horrible number of losses and the miserable state of still alive Russian soldiers near Donetsk,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter) while sharing the video.

Clashes have been increasing in intensity in the Donetsk region, as Russia battles to seize the town of Avdiivka. Since October 10, Russia has poured thousands of troops, tanks and armored vehicles into the area, which has been described as the gateway to the city of Donetsk. Moscow’s forces have reportedly suffered high losses of troops and equipment. It isn’t clear when or where the video shared by Gerashchenko was filmed. Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry via email for comment.

“Hello everyone. I’m the first volunteer from St. Petersburg. My name is Verkiev Igor Gennadievich. Right now in the Donetsk region there is one [Russian] regiment that’s constantly moving forward,” the Russian army volunteer began.

“In fact, right now there are very big losses. I was absent there for 10 days. During this time, they had over 1,000 men killed,” he added.

Although Verkiev doesn’t specify that the troop losses have taken place near Avdiivka, it is currently the scene of the most intense clashes in the Donetsk region. Kyiv has said Russia is suffering major troop and equipment losses amid the ongoing battle for Avdiivka.

Newsweek couldn’t independently verify the figures. Estimates of casualty figures vary, with Kyiv’s figures usually exceeding those of Western countries. Russia itself rarely releases figures on troop losses. In September 2022, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 5,937 of Moscow’s troops had been killed in the war.

Ukrainian artillerymen fire a M777 howitzer
Ukrainian artillerymen fire a M777 howitzer toward Russian positions near Avdiivka in the Donetsk region on June 23, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A volunteer with Russia’s military has leaked the number of troop losses suffered by Moscow in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A joint investigation by the BBC‘s Russian Service and independent Russian news outlet Mediazona on November 17 identified the names of 37,052 Russian military personnel who have died in the war in Ukraine. It said that the actual number of losses was higher than the figures stated in the investigation.

Kyiv similarly does not release updated death tolls. In April, a leaked U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency assessment estimated that Kyiv had suffered 124,500 to 131,000 casualties, including 15,500 to 17,500 dead.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) a U.S.-based independent think tank, said in an update on the war on Monday that Russian forces continued offensive operations near Avdiivka on November 27 but did not make any confirmed advances.

It cited Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun as stating that Russian forces continued ground attacks in groups of 10 to 20 personnel each.

“Shtupun stated that Russian forces are attacking in six directions in the Avdiivka area, and that heavy fighting is ongoing near the Avdiivka Coke Plant in northeastern Avdiivka and the industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka,” the ISW said.

It said days earlier that Russia’s “third wave” of assaults on Avdiivka is unlikely to lead to a rapid Russian advance in the area. Moscow likely renewed its push on the town last week with weaker mechanized capabilities than in the previous offensive waves that occurred in October, the think tank said.

Source : Newsweek