Russia’s casualty toll in Ukraine war will top half a million dead or wounded by 2025, UK says after Putin’s deadly missile barrage killed at least 39 civilians

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Defence Secretary Grant Shapps compared the scale of death and injury to the nine-year Soviet-Afghan war 

Russia’s casualty toll in the Ukraine war will top half a million dead or wounded by 2025 if casualties continue at the current rate, the UK has said.

On Friday, an 18-hour aerial barrage across Ukraine killed at least 39 civilians days after Ukraine’s deadly strike on a Russian warship in the occupied Crimean port of Feodosia, as the war continues into its 23rd month. 

The average daily number of Russia’s troops injured or dead has risen by almost 300 per day over the course of 2023 compared to last year, according to the latest Defence Intelligence update.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps compared the scale of death and injury to the nine-year Soviet-Afghan war, when Russia sustained 70,000 casualties.

‘In (Vladimir) Putin’s pointless war, if casualties continue at the current rate through next year, by 2025 Russia will have sustained over half a million personnel killed & wounded over 3 years of war,’ he wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter. 

Firefighters put out a fire in a damaged enterprise after Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on December 29, 2023

Firefighters put out a fire in a damaged enterprise after Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on December 29, 2023

Firefighters put out a fire in a damaged enterprise after Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on December 29, 2023

The Defence Intelligence update said the increase ‘almost certainly’ reflects the degradation of Russia’s forces and its transition to ‘a lower quality, high quantity mass army since the “partial mobilisation” of reservists in September 2022’.

It will likely take Russia five to 10 years to rebuild a cohort of highly trained and experienced military units, it said.

Moscow continued its assault on Ukraine on Friday, launching 122 missiles and dozens of drones across the country in an onslaught described by one air force official as the biggest aerial barrage of the war.

At least 144 people were wounded and an unknown number were buried under rubble in the assault, which damaged a maternity hospital, apartment blocks and schools.

Western officials and analysts recently warned that Russia had limited its cruise missile strikes for months in an apparent effort to build up stockpiles for massive strikes during the winter, hoping to break the Ukrainians’ spirit.

Russian soldiers carry wreathes and a picture of 20-year-old Russian serviceman Nikita Avrov, during his funeral in Luga, some 150kms south of Saint Petersburg on April 11, 2022. The soldier was born after Russian President Vladimir Putin took power in 2000

Russian soldiers carry wreathes and a picture of 20-year-old Russian serviceman Nikita Avrov, during his funeral in Luga, some 150kms south of Saint Petersburg on April 11, 2022. The soldier was born after Russian President Vladimir Putin took power in 2000

Soldiers carry a coffin of 20-year-old Russian serviceman Nikita Avrov, during his funeral at a church in Luga some 150kms south of Saint Petersburg, on April 11, 2022

Soldiers carry a coffin of 20-year-old Russian serviceman Nikita Avrov, during his funeral at a church in Luga some 150kms south of Saint Petersburg, on April 11, 2022

Red Army soldiers are welcomed with flowers in Termez, Uzbekistan, after crossing the Amu Darya river at the Soviet-Afghan border during the Soviet Army withdrawal from Afghanistan, on February 15, 1989

Red Army soldiers are welcomed with flowers in Termez, Uzbekistan, after crossing the Amu Darya river at the Soviet-Afghan border during the Soviet Army withdrawal from Afghanistan, on February 15, 1989

Fighting along the front line is largely bogged down by winter weather after Ukraine’s summer counter-offensive failed to make a significant breakthrough along the 620-mile line of contact.

After the latest Russian assault, shelling continued across eastern and southern Ukraine and in Russia’s border regions.

Russia said 14 people including two children had been killed and 108 injured in ‘indiscriminate’ Ukrainian strikes allegedly including cluster bombs on the nearby Russian provincial capital of Belgorod today, and vowed to retaliate. 

The Kommersant newspaper cited a source close to the Russian Investigative Committee as saying missiles fired from a multiple rocket launcher in Ukraine’s Kharkov region had hit a skating rink on the central Cathedral Square, a shopping centre, residential buildings and a car.  

Russia today requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the strike.  

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined Mr Shapps in condemning Russian President Mr Putin following Friday’s attack, with Mr Shapps branding the attacks ‘murderous airstrikes’.

The UK Government said hundreds of British-made air defence missiles were being shipped to Ukraine in a bid to increase its defence capability.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has spent recent weeks urging western allies to provide the country with more air defences to protect itself against such aerial attacks.

In this photo taken from video released by Russia Emergency Situations Ministry telegram channel firefighters extinguish burning cars after shelling in Belgorod, Russia, on December 30, 2023

In this photo taken from video released by Russia Emergency Situations Ministry telegram channel firefighters extinguish burning cars after shelling in Belgorod, Russia, on December 30, 2023

A handout photo made available by the Russian rescuers carrying an injured woman after shelling in Belgorod, Russia, on December 30, 2023

A handout photo made available by the Russian rescuers carrying an injured woman after shelling in Belgorod, Russia, on December 30, 2023

Smoke rises in the sky over the city after a Russian missile and drone strike in Kyiv, on December 29, 2023

Smoke rises in the sky over the city after a Russian missile and drone strike in Kyiv, on December 29, 2023

A firefighter works at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on December 29, 2023

A firefighter works at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on December 29, 2023

A firefighter works at a site of a warehouse heavily damaged during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, on December 29, 2023

A firefighter works at a site of a warehouse heavily damaged during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, on December 29, 2023

Emergency services work at the site of an overnight rocket attack on a shopping mall in Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk region, southeastern Ukraine, on December 29, 2023

Emergency services work at the site of an overnight rocket attack on a shopping mall in Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk region, southeastern Ukraine, on December 29, 2023

It comes as signs of war fatigue strain efforts to keep support in place.

Mr Zelensky said the Kremlin’s forces have used a wide variety of weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

‘Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal,’ Mr Zelensky said on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday.

UK military support to Ukraine has seen a total commitment of £4.6 billion, with £2.3 billion set aside up to the end of the financial year.

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