What reserves has Putin left to continue his war on Ukraine? – Interview with Andriy Zagorodnyuk

10 March 2022, 07:12 PM

In an interview with NV, former Ukrainian defense minister and now the chairman of the Board of the Center for Defense Strategies Andriy Zagorodnyuk talks about the actual losses of the enemy, the invading army’s reserves, and possible offensive tactics.

As of the morning of March 9, the losses of personnel of the Russian troops amount to over 12,000 people. A total of 317 tanks, 49 aircraft, 81 helicopters were also confirmed destroyed, according to Ukrainian sources.

U.S. Army Intelligence has also announced its assessment of Russian losses. According to Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, the number of Russian military personnel killed during the invasion of Ukraine could be from 2,000 to 4,000.

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The U.S. officials also believe that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin may resort to escalating the thr Russian offensive in Ukraine. Is this true, what are the real enemy losses, and what reserves can the dictator bring to bear? Find out in this interview with Zagorodnyuk.

– Why is there such a discrepancy between the data of the General Staff and the data of U.S. intelligence? How are these numbers of the aggressor’s losses calculated?

– How do the General Staff and the Defense Ministry count losses? They are counted through the messages of the units, i.e. the units provide information about their results for each day, then it’s all collected and counted. Where does U.S. intelligence get 2,000-4,000 people? Perhaps they’re just collecting photo data and somehow counting. Perhaps they’re taking satellite information, what military equipment was deployed there. But their data cannot be more accurate than ours, because they do not have information from the combat units. Therefore, to be honest, their estimates are dubious.

– A few days ago, you said that 46,000 Russian soldiers had been neutralized. Who are these neutralized soldiers? Are these the dead and seriously wounded?

– (The number of) 12,000 Russian military killed is what the Defense Ministry gives. There are general military statistics that we use. We’re talking not only about the dead, but also about the wounded. We are talking about the wounded who are actually considered casualties. These are not lightly wounded, these are people who leave the combat zone and are not able to complete tasks. The ratio is 1:3. That is, if we officially have 12,000 dead, there are another 30,000-35,000 wounded. Thus, we have a figure of 46,000.

– What personnel did the Russian army bring to the Ukrainian borders before the invasion, and what part has already been brought into Ukraine?

– As of Feb. 22, the invasion group created by Russia in the areas bordering Ukraine and on the territory of Belarus under the guise of military drills totaled about 190,000 people. It should be understood that this group includes ground, air, maritime components, and separate components from the security sector, such as the Russian National Guard and police – in particular SOBR, OMON (riot police), etc. For ease of understanding, let’s designate them as police forces. According to available estimates, the size of the air and maritime components is about 30,000 people. Here we should keep in mind personnel who, due to their functionality, will not end up on the territory of Ukraine. The number of police forces in the invasion group is up to 40,000 people. Thus, the ground component of the invasion is about 120,000. Now they have already involved 100% of the group. Their morale is low.

– Putin planned to capture Kyiv and all of Ukraine in two days – at least according to a victorious article that was accidentally published by a Russian media outlet on Feb. 26. Now it is obvious that the Russian military has not even come close to implementing these plans. What reserves can Russia use now?

– The Russian armed forces have enough technical reserves, i.e. there is a lot of military hardware. But, as we see, it is all rather old and in an average technical condition. As for the personnel, they will have problems with this. There are already problems, because, as we know, they are calling up reservists. Now they are also sending conscripts to complete tasks for this “operation.” They are forced to sign a contract, and, as we heard from the speeches of representatives of the Russian State Duma, sometimes a contract is signed for them. This is where quality issues arise.

Of course, they have high-quality units in reserve. But they cannot involve their entire army in the “Ukrainian operation” as they will expose their other flanks. This shouldn’t be. The question is whether they will do this, or not. There are varying opinions. There is a scenario that they are now gathering the armed forces, let’s say, another army, which will go to strengthen this one. But we will see if there are preparations of such a scale.

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In any case, all their combat-ready ground forces are up to 300,000 people. Half of them have already entered Ukraine. That is, they have half left, and they have various other areas where they must maintain the presence of their armed forces. Thus, the strength of the ground forces is the biggest problem for them now.

– What options and resources does Russia have for further offensive actions? Is it correct to assume that the only way of attack for them in this situation is to bombard Ukrainian cities and villages?

– Better to say, airstrikes and missile strikes. Here they have the strongest positions, especially in relation to missiles, because they have a lot of them in store. And they can use them. Therefore, we are talking about humanitarian solutions to get people out of harm’s way where it is relevant. And this is really the most serious resource they can use against us. Therefore, we need to strengthen air defense by all means. But they have a limited amount of resources for conducting offensive actions on the ground. Of this group of 150,000 soldiers, everyone is already here, in Ukraine.

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