The Russian military has lost more than 10% of the combat force that President Vladimir Putin sent to invade Ukraine, a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday.
The Russian combat force has dipped slightly below 90% for the first time in the war that began less than a month ago, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe intelligence assessments.
Not all of the more than 150,000 Russian troops in Ukraine are combat troops.
Russian forces remain largely stalled across Ukraine, particularly around the capital of Kyiv, where their closest forces remain about 10 miles from the city’s center.
The official described Ukrainian resistance as quick and nimble – and for the first time in the war seeking to retake ground from the Russians.
In the besieged city of Mariupol, the port city in southern Ukraine, Russian ships have been shelling the city from the sea for the first time, the official said.
The shelling of the city appears to be a sign that Russia continues to struggle on the ground against Ukrainian forces.
Russian commanders instead are relying on long-range bombardment to take the cities, a tactic that often results in civilian casualties.
Russia continues to have problems supplying its troops in Ukraine with food, fuel and weaponry, the official said.
Some soldiers have suffered frostbite because they don’t have proper cold-weather gear. There are signs that they are having trouble keeping ships fueled at sea, the official said.
Kremlin quiet on rising casualty count
Estimates of Russian military casualties vary, but even conservative figures by Western officials are in the low thousands. Ukraine has estimated Russian losses at more than 15,000.
Russia has not given an update since it said March 2 that 498 soldiers had been killed in action.
Russia’s pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, citing the Defense Ministry, briefly reported Monday online that almost 10,000 Russian soldiers had been killed.
The report was quickly removed, and the newspaper blamed hackers. The Kremlin declined comment Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army said it forced Russian troops out of Makariv, a strategically important Kyiv suburb, after a fierce battle.
The regained territory allowed Ukrainian forces to retake control of a key highway to the west and block Russian troops from surrounding Kyiv from the northwest.
But Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Russian forces battling toward Kyiv were able to partially take other northwest suburbs – Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin – some of which had been under attack almost since Russia’s military invaded late last month.