Vladimir Putin is facing chaos, as the Kremlin is thought to have lost as many as 80,000 troops, while Ukraine has retaken more than 6,000 sq km of land. Ukrainian troops have inflicted a “major operational defeat” on Russian forces, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said. In its latest estimate, Ukraine said that it has retaken more than 6,000 sq km of land from Russian control in September.
Meanwhile, the US Defense Department believes that at least 80,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24 2022.
The retaking of Ukrainian land by Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces has occurred in both the south and the east.
Izyum and Kupiansk, towns in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, were taken by Ukraine around a week ago.
Both towns are key hubs for the supply of Russian forces in Donbas.
Russia confirmed it had withdrawn from the towns, saying that the retreat would allow its troops to “regroup”.
Ukrainian troops continue to participate in a counterattack in Kherson in the south.
While Russia still holds about a fifth of Ukraine, the pushback from Ukrainian forces is seen by some analysts as a mark of success for the war effort.
Justin Bronk from the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) said that Russian positions in Kharkiv had suffered a “total collapse.”
He told the BBC that the Russian withdrawal was “certainly the most dramatic reverse that we’ve seen from the Russians since they retreated from Kyiv in April”.
The Pentagon’s top policy official, Colin Kahl told Foreign Policy magazine that Russian forces are “taking a tremendous number of casualties”.
Meanwhile, Professor Michael Clarke of King’s College London said Russian forces suffered from a “major intelligence failure” in Kharkiv, having underestimated Ukrainian strength.
The head of Ukraine’s armed forces estimated last month that the country has lost as many as 9,000 soldiers since the start of the war.
Yesterday, Russia’s State Duma rushed through a bill introducing extra penalties for crimes such as desertion during times of martial law and general mobilisation.
This has caused speculation that the Kremlin may be considering implementing full military mobilisation.
Earlier today, Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine also announced plans for urgent referendums for joining Russia.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s security council said that holding votes in Donetsk and Luhansk would correct “historical justice” and be irreversible.
He added: “After the amendments to the constitution of our state, no future leader of Russia, no official will be able to reverse these decisions.”