Has Ukraine’s Army Been Reduced by Almost 50%?

Ursula von Der Leyen’s did the unthinkable today — she told the truth. During a speech condemning Russia for committing war crimes, she noted in passing that 100,000 Ukrainian “officers” (sic) have been killed since the start of the SMO.

Ukraine was not happy:

Ukraine has hit back at a claim by the European Commission’s president that 100,000 of Kyiv’s troops have been killed since Russia’s invasion in February

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Ursula von der Leyen used the number in a video address, prompting Kyiv’s armed forces to state that the death toll was “classified information.” Footage of her speech has since been edited to cut the reference.


The European Union stupidly tried to walk this back by erasing von der Leyen’s claim from the internet. That “walk back” failed. Which raises the question — who is a better Moon Walker? Von der Leyen or Michael Jackson?

I know. Michael Jackson of course. I do not believe that von der Leyen misspoke nor did she fabricate the number. If it really was an error of fact all she had to do was issue a statement to that effect, e.g., “Mea culpa, I meant to say 10,000 not 100,000”. She did not do that. She pretended she never said what she said.

If the 100,000 dead number is true, then that means Ukraine’s total casualties — i.e., killed and wounded — is approximately 400,000. In other words, Ukraine has suffered almost 40% casualties since the start of the fighting. During the 20th Century, this type of modern warfare normally saw 3 wounded soldiers for every man killed. Using that ratio we get the 400,000 number for total casualties.

When the war kicked off in February, Ukraine’s total manpower for ground forces was 1,125,000:

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Ukraine has 196,600 active military personnel.

This breaks down into 125,600 ground troops, 35,000 airmen and 15,000 naval troops.

It can also count on 900,000 reservists although, as recent images of civilians holding wooden rifles suggest, not all of these forces are necessarily well equipped.


Ukraine’s state of emergency is still in effect and the reservists have been called to duty. In fact, Ukraine has gone beyond its normal reserve force strength and has been compelled by necessity to dragoon middle aged men into service. These are the “territorial defense” forces.

Is the 100,000 number of fatalities credible? Yes. If you consider that 275 days have come and gone since the start of Russia’s Special Military Operation on 24 February 2022, there must be an average of 364 KIA to reach the 100,000 dead figure. If you have followed the daily Russian MOD briefings, you would realize this is an accurate number. Here is today’s report, which reports approximately 190 KIA:

In Donetsk direction, as a result of offensive actions by Russian troops, near Belogorovka and Pershe Travnya . . . up to 50 Ukrainian servicemen, 4 armoured fighting vehicles, 3 self-propelled artillery units and 6 motor vehicles have been eliminated.

In Kupyansk direction . . . Firepower’s operation has resulted in halting and driving the enemy back to initial positions. Up to 50 Ukrainian servicemen, 10 tanks, 1 infantry fighting vehicle, 2 armoured personnel carriers, 1 self-propelled artillery unit and 1 motor vehicle have been eliminated.

In Krasniy Liman direction, three AFU company tactical groups, reinforced with tanks, unsuccessfully tried to attack Russian positions towards Ploshchanka, Chervonopopovka and Zhytlovka (Lugansk People’s Republic). . . As a result of the shelling, the enemy’s losses in this direction amounted to over 40 Ukrainian servicemen, 1 tank, 4 infantry fighting vehicles and 1 munition vehicle.

In South Donetsk direction, three AFU company tactical groups attempted to counterattack Russian positions near Novomikhaylovka, Novodonetskoye and Novosyolka (Donetsk People’s Republic). The counter-attacks have been repelled as a result of gunfire and active actions by Russian units. . . More than 50 Ukrainian servicemen, 2 infantry fighting vehicles, 2 armoured personnel carriers, 1 MT-LB, 1 armoured motor vehicle and 4 motor vehicles have been eliminated.

As I have discussed previously, Russia’s current military leadership is not following the tactics Soviet generals employed in WW II (i.e., mass troop assaults). Russia primarily has relied on massive artillery and rocket/missile strikes before launching a ground offensive. The Russian rate of artillery fire is unlike anything we’ve seen in history. More importantly, the accuracy of the artillery is enhanced by the use of drones and satellites to adjust fires, with updated coordinates relayed in real time to the artillery units.

Another factor contributing to Ukraine’s horrendous casualties is its lack of air power and effective air defense systems to counter Russian batteries. If Ukrainian troops try to attack a Russian fixed position, their movement by foot or vehicle is unprotected and vulnerable to Russian artillery or combat air.

It appears that some Western analysts who previously pooh-poohed the Russian tactics, are finally beginning to realize that Russia is serious about de-militarizing Ukraine via methodical, grinding tactics. There will come a point when Ukraine runs out of men and cannot field a combat effective force. It appears that day is approaching.

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