WASHINGTON – The White House said Monday it now estimates Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties in Ukraine since December, including 20,000 deaths, as Ukraine has pushed back a heavy Russian offensive.
In what has become a war of attrition, the fiercest battles have been in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russia continues to try to encircle the town of Bathmut and has run into a stubborn Ukrainian defense.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the new estimate is based on recently declassified intelligence data. He did not go into details of how security agencies arrived at that figure.

Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff, said in November that Russia had suffered well over 100,000 killed or wounded in the first eight months of war. The new figures suggest that Russian casualties have accelerated dramatically in recent months.

Russian Wagner mercenary group troops along with other forces are fighting Ukrainian forces house to house, trying to seize the only road to the west that remains in Ukrainian hands, and which is vital for transporting supplies and troops. Both sides have claimed in recent days that they have made progress.

Kirby said that nearly half of those killed since December are from the Wagner Group, many of them prisoners who were released to fight for Russia. He commented that these fighters “were thrown into combat without sufficient training, leadership or any command and control.” The commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Colonel Oleksandr Syrskyi, indicated that Russia continues to make its “maximum effort” to take the city, but has so far failed.

“In some parts of the city, the enemy has suffered from the counterattack of our units and has been forced to retreat,” Syrskyi said.

Kirby declined to say how many Ukrainian troops have been killed or wounded. Milley said in November that Ukrainian casualties probably hovered around 100,000.

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