The Russian military has suffered dramatic casualties on the battlefield since invading Ukraine in February 2022, according to newly declassified intelligence shared with Congress, a person familiar with the intelligence told NBC News.
In the past 22 months, 315,000 Russian troops have been killed and wounded, according to the assessment provided to lawmakers. Prior to the invasion, Russia had a ground force strength of about 360,000.
Russia has also sustained huge losses in equipment, with 2,200 tanks destroyed out of a force of 3,500 and one-third of its armored vehicles knocked out of action, the assessment said.
Russia in some cases has had to draw on Soviet-era hardware to replace the lost equipment, even bringing 50-year-old T-62 tanks onto the battlefield.
The invasion and its aftermath have undermined a 15-year-long effort by Moscow to modernize its ground forces, according to the intelligence reporting.
The Biden administration declassified the information about Russian battlefield losses as it tries to persuade Congress to approve additional military assistance to Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his case for renewed military aid on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, a day after delivering a speech to American military officers at National Defense University.
As part of its push to secure congressional approval for more weapons for Ukraine, the Biden administration on Monday downgraded intelligence on Russia’s war aims and the results of recent fighting in eastern Ukraine, as NBC News previously reported.
Russia’s attempt to go on the offensive in the east, including around Avdiivka, Lyman and Kupiansk, has resulted in no strategic gains and has come at a severe cost in casualties, according to National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
“Russia seems to believe that a military deadlock through the winter will drain Western support for Ukraine and ultimately give Russia the advantage despite Russian losses and persistent shortages of trained personnel, munitions and equipment,” Watson said.
The administration has asked Congress for about $50 billion in additional military aid for Ukraine, which depends heavily on the United States and NATO countries for weapons and ammunition, including artillery rounds and air defense systems. But some Republicans have expressed reservations about providing more assistance to Ukraine, and GOP lawmakers also want the aid linked to changes in U.S. policy on border security and immigration.
In November 2022, the then-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, said Russia and Ukraine had each suffered more than about 100,000 killed and wounded since Russia invaded Ukraine that February.