Putin humiliated as intercepted call from Russia soldier tells of ‘defeated’ Moscow crew

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According to the intercept, published by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine on the Telegram messaging app, the war is having a heavier toll on Russian forces than the Chechen and Afghan wars.

The Vostok battalion is led by Alexander Khodakovsky, one of the separatist military leaders involved in the assault on Mariupol.

The battalion was behind the siege to the city’s Ilyich steel plant in the early days of the invasion.

Kyiv cited the man as saying: “The Rostov [a Russian region that borders eastern Ukraine] part was destroyed.

“There is practically nothing left here.

“And now the recruitment is very large.

“Everyone is taken in a row … Because they practically defeated the entire part.”

The man added that in comparison with the war in Ukraine, “the Chechen and Afghan (wars) are nursery”.

The First Chechen War ran from 1994 to 1996. The official figure for Russian military deaths was 5,732, though estimates put the number between 3,500 and 7,500, with some going as high as 14,000.

Estimates of casualties at the Second Chechen War, from 1999 to 2000, vary wildly from 25,000 to 200,000 civilian deaths and from 8,000 to 40,000 military deaths.

The Soviet-Afghan War, meanwhile, ran a whole decade – from 1979, when Soviet troops set foot in the South-East Asian republic, to 1989. About 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed and about 35,000 were wounded.

While it is unclear what battle the soldier referred to during the call, the parallel serves as a reflection of the human toll of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Last week, the United States estimated Russian casualties in Ukraine had so far reached around 15,000 killed and perhaps 45,000 wounded.

CIA Director William Burns said: “The latest estimates from the US intelligence community would be something in the vicinity of 15,000 (Russian forces) killed and maybe three times that wounded. So a quite significant set of losses.”

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, he added that Kyiv had also endured significant casualties: “And, the Ukrainians have suffered as well – probably a little less than that. But, you know, significant casualties.”

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According to Ukraine, the figure is significantly higher.

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday put it at 40,000 servicemen.

He said in his daily address: “For four months, the Russian state has not provided to its citizens any information — even censored — about the losses of the occupation contingent.

“Total silence. Nothing was published or said in numerous interviews and speeches at the political and military levels.

“However, this number is already almost 40,000 – that is how many the Russian army has lost since February 24. And tens of thousands more were wounded and maimed.”

Mr Zelensky’s claim is unverified and follows earlier uncorroborated statements by the Ukrainian authorities.

The UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, earlier this month said Russia had lost 30 percent of its forces, with 50,000 soldiers dead or injured.

He told BBC One’s Sunday Morning programme that Ukraine plans on restoring “the whole of their territory”.

He said: “What you’re seeing is a Russia, if we focus on the Donbas, that is less than 10 percent of the territory of Ukraine and we are approaching 150 days.

“Russia is struggling to take that territory, and it is struggling because of the courage and determination of the Ukrainian armed forces.”

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