Russian Offensive Falters: Highest Monthly Casualties Recorded in the War

Written by Jakob A. Overgaard

Jun.29 - 2024 10:11 AM CET

Photo: Juliya Shangarey /
Photo: Juliya Shangarey /

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The Russian army is facing unprecedented losses on the battlefield, with the number of casualties exceeding the rate at which new recruits are joining.

May 2024 saw the highest number of casualties since the start of the war, with over 1,000 soldiers killed or wounded each day. This stark figure reflects the heavy toll of the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region, which was met with fierce resistance bolstered by American-supplied weapons and ubiquitous Ukrainian drones.

As reported by Onet Wiadomości, Western intelligence sources have shared that the month of May was particularly devastating for Russian forces, with British intelligence estimating daily losses at around 1,200 personnel.

This brings the total casualties for May alone to between 31,000 and 37,000 soldiers. The British intelligence considers May to be the bloodiest month in the 27-month-long conflict.

Despite these staggering losses, the Kremlin continues to replenish its forces with 25,000 to 30,000 new recruits each month. This influx of personnel allows Russian commanders to maintain their aggressive tactics, which have been described as "meat-grinder" assaults, throwing large numbers of soldiers into highly dangerous offensives with little regard for their survival.

The strategy, however, appears to be faltering. Initial successes, such as the capture of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, required prolonged and bloody battles, with heavy casualties on the Russian side.

The recent offensive in Kharkiv, which began on May 10, quickly stalled despite initial gains. Russian forces managed to capture part of the city of Vovchansk in the early days, but the advance soon bogged down due to the effective defense mounted by Ukrainian forces, who were well-equipped with advanced weaponry and supported by intelligence from Western allies.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted in an interview with The New York Times that the Kremlin's spring offensive failed to achieve its objectives. "President Putin and Moscow made a significant effort to break through the front lines this spring," Stoltenberg said. "They tried and failed. They achieved very little and paid a very high price."

The high casualty rate has been exacerbated by the use of non-traditional military vehicles. Russian troops have been deploying on motorcycles, quads, and buggy-type vehicles, which have proven to be highly vulnerable in combat.

According to analysis by Andrew Perpetua, May saw the destruction, damage, or abandonment of 182 such vehicles, compared to significantly lower numbers in previous months.

The tactics employed by Ukrainian forces, including extensive use of drones, cluster munitions, and fortified defensive positions, have turned the tide in many engagements. Ukrainian troops have responded to Russian attacks with overwhelming firepower, often outmatching the number of rounds fired by their adversaries.

As the war drags on, the human cost continues to mount. The comparison to the Soviet-Afghan War, where 15,000 Soviet soldiers died over ten years, underscores the severity of the current conflict.

The battle for Avdiivka alone has already surpassed those numbers, with an estimated 16,000 to 17,000 Russian soldiers killed.