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Unit holding Putin’s annexed land lost 70 percent of men in a week: Ukraine

A Russian military unit holding President Vladimir Putin‘s annexed land lost 70 percent of its soldiers in a single week, according to Ukrainian military officials.

Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, aiming for a quick victory over his Eastern European neighbor. However, Ukraine met Russian troops with a spirited defense effort, bolstered by Western military aid, blocking Russia from making substantial military gains. Throughout the ongoing nine-month conflict, Putin’s military has faced several challenges, including a lack of motivated forces and reports of their high attrition.

Ukrainian military authorities on Monday revealed the latest challenge for Putin’s troops in an operational update posted to Facebook, in which they touted their own military successes.

Despite mounting setbacks, Moscow has taken some territory in southeastern Ukraine—though Kyiv in recent months has taken back large swaths of the land, including the key city of Kherson. One Russian unit seeking to hold control of this territory suffered major losses in the past week, according to Ukraine.

Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Yerevan on November 23. Ukrainian military leaders said 70 percent of a unit protecting Putin’s occupied territory in Ukraine were killed in combat this week. Putin launched the invasion more than nine months earlier, but his military has struggled to make substantial military gains.

“Russian invaders continue to die ingloriously in Ukraine,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine wrote in its update. “For example, one of the units of the Russian occupation forces in the Luhansk oblast lost up to 70% of its personnel last week.”

The troops were stationed near the village of Babyne, located about 86 miles northeast of Kherson. Ukrainian soldiers also destroyed up to five “units” of military equipment. More specific information about dead and wounded servicemen was “being clarified,” according to the update.

More information about the battles was not immediately available. Newsweek was not able to independently verify Ukraine’s claims, which have not been confirmed by Russian officials.

The report marks the latest indication that Russia’s invasion continues to falter, despite its vast size and perceived strength prior to the war. Earlier this month, Ukraine said Russia suffered 700 losses in a single day. Facing significant losses, Putin earlier in the fall announced a partial mobilization of forces to rebuild troop numbers, but experts say that has done little to stop Ukraine’s momentum.

Ukraine War Updates: Zelensky Warns Russia Planning More Strikes

Putin has faced some internal political pressure to turn the tide of the war in Russia’s favor in recent months. Moscow has launched attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure, including on the capital city of Kyiv. Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Monday that 97 percent of Russia’s recent targets were civilians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during his nightly address to his country that he believes Russia will continue launching more strikes against civilians and military personnel.

“We understand that the terrorists are planning new strikes. We know this for a fact,” Zelensky said. “And as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down.”

How Many Russian Soldiers Have Died in Ukraine?

There is no single figure that definitively defines the number of Russian soldiers who died throughout the first nine months of the invasion of Ukraine, as different organizations each cite their own statistics.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said on Monday that 87,900 Russian troops have been killed in combat. Meanwhile, Russian defense officials in September said just under 6,000 of their soldiers have been killed. Most other assessments list the number of Russian casualties between the two figures.

Last week, the BBC said a recent investigation confirmed at least 9,300 Russian soldier deaths—but that it believes its list significantly undercounts the true number, as many deaths have not been officially reported.

The Pentagon said earlier in November that more than 100,000 Russian soldiers have either been killed or wounded in the conflict, adding that 40,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.

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