Some Ukrainian units have suffered casualty rates of 85% during their ongoing counteroffensive against Russian forces, Western mercenaries told ABC News on Thursday. The report aligns with casualty figures released by Russia, which claims that its forces have destroyed 43,000 Ukrainian troops in two months.
An American veteran fighting with Ukrainian special forces near Donetsk told ABC that his unit of “dozens” of men took “85% casualties” during an assault on a village near the city two weeks ago. Of those hit, 40% were injured so badly that they were left “combat ineffective” afterwards, he added.
His comrade, another American, said that the unit met “very organized resistance” from Russian troops.
A third mercenary, from an unidentified Western nation, told the network that he was seriously injured in the early days of the counteroffensive, and that around 80% of his battalion had since been wounded.
The Ukrainian government does not release casualty figures, meaning that the Ukrainian public has to rely on other clues – like unverified reports of expanded graveyards – to ascertain the scale of the losses. According to the latest figures from the Russian Defense Ministry, Ukraine has lost more than 43,000 troops since the start of the counteroffensive in June.
In February, leaked Pentagon documents suggested that Kiev had assembled 12 brigades for the operation, including nine trained and equipped by NATO. With a brigade typically numbering between 2,000 and 4,000 troops, a casualty rate of up to 85% could roughly align with Moscow’s figures. The US believes that Kiev has sent tens of thousands more men to the frontline since the start of the offensive, with US officials telling Politico earlier this month that 150,000 troops are currently involved in the operation.