The Russian military has caused up to 80,000 deaths and injuries since its invasion of Ukraine, Colin Kahl, US undersecretary of defense for policy, said on Monday.
He called it an “extraordinary cost” inflicted by Ukrainian forces fighting for issues that “are existential for them”. This figure is nearly double the 42,340 Russian casualties estimated by the Ukrainian military, which does not account for its own combat losses. Neither does the Kremlin.
Russia fell short of the goals set by President Vladimir Putin when the invasion began on Feb. 24, Kahl said.
“His overall goal was to invade the whole country, to engage in regime change in Kyiv, to stifle Ukraine as a sovereign and independent nation,” Kahl said. “None of that happened.”
Russia also appears to have lost up to 4,000 armored vehicles, including tanks, Kahl said. Ukrainian officials put the number at 4,070 armored vehicles and 1,811 tanks.
Pentagon officials had been reluctant to quantify casualties on both sides of the war, citing unclear estimates. In comparison, in 20 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, about 50,000 American soldiers have been wounded and more than 5,200 have been killed.
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►The Ukrainian army said on Monday it had destroyed a Russian ammunition depot in the Kharkiv region and shot down a cruise missile near Odessa.
►Daniil Medvedev, Liudmila Samsonova and Daria Kasatkina, three Russian tennis players banned from competing at Wimbledon due to the war in Ukraine, won tournaments this weekend that serve as a tune-up for the US Open. “We are all very angry about the situation,” Samsonova said of the Wimbledon ban.
US to seize oligarch’s $90m jet
Federal officials targeting Russian oligarchs are preparing to seize a plane they say is owned through a chain of shell companies and relatives of billionaire Andrei Skoch.
A New York-based federal judge has signed a seizure warrant for the Airbus A319-100, a model typically used to carry more than 130 passengers in commercial service. Federal prosecutors said the $90 million plane was at an airport in Kazakhstan. The United States and Kazakhstan have a treaty obligating each country to honor the warrants and other law enforcement actions of the other. Federal officials said they believe Skoch was also the owner of the $156 million yacht Madame Gu and the yacht’s helicopter, which have also been targeted for possible seizure.
President Joe Biden has created and deployed a team of federal prosecutors and other experts to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs as part of efforts to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies for invading Ukraine.
While federal officials routinely do this kind of work, Biden’s KleptoCapture task force has secured new resources and additional staff to help and has already seized yachts it says are owned by oligarchs. Biden has offered to sell the seized assets to help fund Ukraine’s reconstruction and defense efforts.
“A seizure like this is step one in a process that ultimately ends in forfeiture,” said Stefan D. Cassella, former federal attorney in charge of asset forfeiture. “The biggest hurdle is proving that the plane in question belongs to that particular person.”
US sends additional $1 billion in security aid to Ukraine
The Biden administration will send an additional $1 billion in ammunition, weapons and vehicles to Ukraine, the Pentagon announced Monday.
The latest military aid program includes ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which Ukraine has used to destroy Russian ammunition depots and command posts tens of kilometers behind the front line in eastern Ukraine. Defense officials credited the weapon and strong Ukrainian resolve for slowing the Russian advance there. The set includes conventional artillery ammunition, armored ambulances and anti-tank weapons.
It is the largest security aid shipment of 18 sent to Ukraine since August 2021, Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale said. The Biden administration provided Ukraine with $9.8 billion in military aid, the lion’s share of the $11.8 billion in security aid the United States sent to the European country of the East since 2014.
Melitopol would be “reunified” with Russia by referendum
The Russian-appointed leader of Ukraine’s occupied Zaporizhzhia region signed an order on Monday to hold a referendum on “reunification” with Russia that could take place as early as next month. Evgeny Balitsky’s announcement came a day after the city’s mayor, Ivan Fedorov, said Ukrainian forces used US-supplied HIMARS rockets to strike Russian troops in the area, killing more of 100 people.
“I sign an order to the Central Election Commission to start preparations for a referendum,” Balitsky said at a public forum in the southeastern city of Melitopol. “We are with Russia.”
Russia stops allowing inspections of US nuclear arsenal under treaty
At a time of increasingly strained relations, Russia said it would stop allowing the United States to inspect its nuclear arsenals, saying Western sanctions imposed over the assault on Ukraine had hampered similar visits to US facilities by Russian observers.
Halting US inspections under the New START nuclear arms control treaty for the first time, Moscow said sanctions on Russian flights, visa restrictions and other hurdles prevented Russian military experts from inspecting US nuclear weapons sites, giving Americans “unilateral advantages”.
The development came on the same day that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries with nuclear weapons to live up to their pledge not to be the first to use them, warning that the nuclear arms race is returned in a context of growing international tension.
Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of bombing a nuclear power plant
The “suicidal” bombing of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant must be stopped and international inspectors must be allowed access to ensure its safe operation, UN Secretary General António Guterres said on Monday. Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for a series of attacks at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, created “the very real risk of a nuclear catastrophe”.
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Andriy Yusov said his organization had received credible information from multiple sources that Russian forces planted explosives at the plant to ward off an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area. Ukrainian power company Energoatom quoted a Russian general as saying, “The plant will either be Russian or it won’t belong to anyone.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of carrying out the rocket attacks. The Russian Embassy in Washington released a statement blaming Ukraine for the bombing, saying a “disinformation campaign” in US media falsely blamed Russian forces.
Ukrainian officials have previously said Russia was launching attacks from the factory and using Ukrainian workers as human shields.
Embargo eased, Ukrainian grain shipment first to reach destination
A freighter carrying 12,000 tonnes of Ukrainian maize arrived in Turkey on Monday, the first ship to arrive at its destination under a deal that eased Russia’s strict blockade of Ukrainian ports.
The Polarnet, flying the Turkish flag, docked at the port of Derince in the Gulf of Izmit, three days after leaving Chornomorsk. The first ship to leave Ukraine, the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, left on August 1 but had not reached its destination in Lebanon and was anchored off the southern coast of Turkey, according to the website. Marine Traffic.
The ships are sailing as part of a deal to unlock grain supplies and avert a global food crisis. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the arrival of the first ship “sends a message of hope to all families in the Middle East, Africa and Asia: Ukraine will not abandon you If Russia fulfills its obligations, the “grain corridor” will continue to maintain global food security.”
Another six ships carrying agricultural goods have been cleared to leave Ukrainian Black Sea ports, carrying more than 236,000 tons of grain. Ukraine has 20 million tonnes of grain stored in silos.
Dilapidated infrastructure could lead to a humanitarian crisis
The city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine has no running water due to incessant Russian shelling. Residents must therefore fill the bottles by hand at public pumps throughout the city. The town’s remaining population has adapted, but local officials warn that the onset of winter could set the stage for a humanitarian crisis. Most of the eastern Donetsk region is without gas for heating, and public wells and municipal water pipes are at risk of freezing in winter.
Lyubov Mahlii, 76, collects 5 gallons of water twice a day from a public tank near his apartment, dragging the plastic bottles up four floors.
“When there are bombings and sirens, we keep wearing it,” she said. “It’s a big risk for us, but what can we do?”
Contributor: The Associated Press