“In recent days, we have seen significant losses in Ukraine, they exceed the classical figure,” he said, according to the Kremlin.
The Russian president also confessed that Russian forces were dealing with artillery problems, adding in his remarks that “Yes, we still do not have enough of these modern weapons, but the defense industry, the country's military-industrial complex is developing rapidly.”
The acknowledgment is a stark departure from typical messaging from Moscow. Putin and other Kremlin officials have long sought to paint the invasion as a success throughout the war, despite a stinging slew of losses and failed war plans. In March of last year, Putin claimed the operations were going according to plan, regardless of the Russian military’s failure to seize Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, in an embarrassing defeat.
It doesn’t appear that Putin has completely thrown in the towel just yet, though. The Russian president attempted to throw cold water on the idea that Ukraine is fully succeeding in their counteroffensive. He added, however, that the Ukrainian military may yet achieve victory on the battlefield.
“It can be stated that all counteroffensive attempts made so far have failed, but the offensive potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has still been preserved,” Putin said.
The Kremlin has been working to right-size expectations within Russia about the outcome of the war. Moscow recently circulated a memo to propagandists suggesting that Russia hasn’t underestimated Ukrainian forces, in an apparent effort to set the stage for a less humiliating defeat.
The Russian losses, according to an update shared Friday from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, are mounting. In the last 24 hours, Russian forces conducted “unsuccessful offensive operations near Bilogorivka” on the Lyman axis, the Ukrainian government said. Russians also conducted offensives near Bohdanivka on the Bakhmut axis, “albeit without success,” the update said, noting that Russia also conducted failed operations in Severne and Nevels’ke, in addition to losses in Marinka.
According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russia has lost approximately 213,770 troops since launching the invasion in February of last year.
At the beginning of May, the White House National Security Council assessed that Russian forces sustained 100,000 casualties since December.
Russian efforts to boost manpower in the military in advance of Ukraine’s counteroffensive also appear to be faltering, according to a report from The Moscow Times. Despite reported goals of recruiting 400,000 soldiers this year, recruitment efforts are reportedly not meeting intended goals.
Ukraine, however, still has some tough battles ahead.
In remarks addressed to soldiers Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged Ukrainian soldiers “are in particularly difficult battles these days.”
“We see your heroism, and we are grateful to you for every minute of your life,” Zelensky said Friday.
U.S. officials say Ukraine is suffering significant losses, according to CNN.
The Ukrainian government’s messaging about the counteroffensive acknowledges there is room for failure still. Zelensky has admitted in recent weeks that a large number of Ukrainian soldiers will likely perish through the fighting.
Ukrainian officials say they are still in desperate need of more weapons and equipment from western allies.
The Biden administration will be sending an additional $2.1 billion worth of military assistance to Ukraine, including air defense and ammunition, the Pentagon announced Friday. The new package will include munitions for Patriot air defense systems and 105mm and 203mm artillery rounds, among other gear, training, and support.