Russia has lost about 3% to 5% of its tanks, planes, artillery and other military assets inside Ukraine – against Ukrainian losses of about 10% of its capabilities, according to two US officials familiar with the latest information.
US and Western officials warn that these ratios are difficult to calculate and subject to change – not only because both sides continue to suffer casualties as the week-long war continues, but also because Russian and Ukrainian forces are replenished.
But the glaring imbalance underscores grim assessments by US and Western officials that despite tougher-than-expected resistance from Ukraine that has kept major cities out of Russian hands, it is still likely to be overwhelmed as Russia launches an intensified and less discriminatory phase of its assault.
And even despite Western aid, US officials say Ukraine is still vastly outmatched by Russia. Moscow initially relied heavily on its more modern precision cruise missiles, according to a source close to intelligence, severely degrading Ukraine’s military infrastructure. Meanwhile, Ukraine continued to burn its supply of shoulder-fired Javelin missiles.
“I’ve spoken to Biden many times, and I’ve told them many times that Ukraine will stand up and fight harder than anyone, but by ourselves against Russia, we won’t get there,” he said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN’s Matthew Chance. in an interview on Tuesday.
Ukraine “needs[s] the classic kit pieces now. They need bullets, they need bandages. They’re going to need fuel. They are going to need ammunition, in addition to humanitarian support to help with medical assistance, support hospitals, both for those wounded in combat and for injured civilians,” a senior Western intelligence official said.
“And they’re going to need a lot of ammunition and weapons resupply, because the Russian force is both numerically and qualitatively superior,” the person said.
Nearly 6,000 Russian soldiers died in the first six days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky said Wednesday morning. The top Western intelligence official said Wednesday morning the Western figure was similar – around 5,800 – but warned that “my figure is from yesterday”.
US officials believe Russia is changing tactics, according to a US official. While Moscow started with a more modern combined arms approach – one that also seemed to avoid targeting civilian infrastructure – it has now moved on to what this official called a “slow annihilation” strategy. Officials predict continued heavy weaponry and the possibility of “tens of thousands” of troops marching on major Ukrainian cities, the person said.
Another Western official also said there was a sense the conflict could turn into a bitter war of attrition – not the blitz that Russian President Vladimir Putin and US intelligence suspected of bringing about the downfall from Kyiv in a few days.