The US Department of Defense told lawmakers on Tuesday that between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian soldiers are estimated to have died in the near-… two week old invasion from Ukraine.
The assessment came as US defense and intelligence leaders painted a grim picture of an aggressive and aggrieved Russian President Vladimir Putin and the likelihood that he will continue to promote a large-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine despite massive global opposition.
Asked at a House Intelligence Committee hearing how many Russian troops have been killed in the military operation so far, Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, said “somewhere between two (thousand) and 4,000. “
However, Berrier added that the estimate is considered “low confidence” because it was compiled using a combination of intelligence sources and open source data.
Russia said in a rare publication of military death tolls on March 2 that 498 of its soldiers were killed. Ukraine said at the time it believed the figure was higher.
Central Intelligence Directorate William Burns told the House panel that he believes Ukraine and the Moscow-led war is a matter of “deep personal conviction” for Putin.
“He has simmered in a flammable combination of resentment and ambition,” Burns said, adding that he expects “an ugly week ahead in which (Putin) doubles down” in Ukraine “with little regard for civilian casualties.”
But he also expressed confidence that the Ukrainians “will continue to resist fiercely and effectively”.
National intelligence director Avril Haines told lawmakers Putin was not anticipating the full magnitude of the global economic, trade and diplomatic backlash against Russia.
But she also said it was DNI’s assessment that Putin “is unlikely to be deterred from such setbacks”, seeing the conflict as “a war he cannot afford to lose”.