Russian troops are believed to have sustained as many losses in three months of fighting in Ukraine as the Soviet army did during the nine years it spent in Afghanistan, according to a report from British officials.
The United Kingdom’s defense intelligence agency cites “poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility, and a command approach which is prepared to reinforce failure and repeat mistakes,” as explanations for Russia’s high casualty rates in Ukraine.
About 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed and 35,000 wounded during the Soviet Union’s 1979-1989 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. NATO estimates Russia has lost about 15,000 troops in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of its neighbor.
British intelligence officials say the casualty rate is continuing to mount even as Moscow has pulled back and redeployed its troops to the disputed Donbas region.
In the past, the Russian public has reacted negatively to high casualties sustained during “wars of choice,” British intelligence officials tweeted Monday.
“As casualties suffered in Ukraine continue to rise they will become more apparent, and public dissatisfaction with the war and a willingness to voice it may grow,” officials said.