Russia has not released updated casualty figures, but a NATO official told NBC News that the organization currently estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have died in the past four weeks of the war. The official added that in addition to the Russian forces that were wounded, captured or lost, the number could reach 30,000 to 40,000.
The war has marred Ukraine. Northern cities like Kharkiv are in ruins. Mariupol, in the south, is still under siege.
The UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs has officially confirmed more than 2,500 civilian casualties, including dead and wounded, but acknowledged that the total is likely to be much higher.
‘This is not collateral damage’
Most experts in the West agree that such a relentless attack was not Russia’s original plan, but rather the plan it eventually settled on as a result of poor planning and execution by its military.
Having already annexed Crimea and backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Putin wanted a quick victory, according to experts analyzing Russia’s military moves and his public statements. They believe that he intended to quickly seize Ukrainian cities, remove the government and install a puppet regime.
Five days later, it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, according to Giles and others.
Instead, Ukraine inflicted heavy losses on a Russian force that seemed unwilling to fight a long and difficult battle.
In response to this conflict, Putin has focused on what experts say is the tried, tested, and ruthless Plan B: bombing civilians to force them into submission.
“Russian brutality really surprised me,” said Hanna Schelst, director of the Ukrainian Prism Foundation who lives in the southern city of Odessa. “This is not collateral damage; it is intentional.”
The Kremlin rejects this and says its campaign is going well. But it also denies that it is ever waging a war, instead calling it a “special military operation” to remove Ukraine’s “neo-Nazi” government and prevent “genocide” of Russians – both of which are incorrect.
Some see that Moscow’s entry into peace talks with Kyiv is evidence that it is trying to find a way out for its failed military objectives.