Almost 180,000 Russians dead or wounded in Ukraine, Norwegian general says

Almost 180,000 Russians have so far been killed or wounded during the war in Ukraine, while the figure for the Ukrainians is 100,000 military casualties and 30,000 dead civilians, according to estimates released by Norway’s army chief.

“Russian losses are beginning to approach around 180,000 dead or wounded soldiers,” Norwegian defence chief General Eirik Kristoffersen said in an interview with TV2, without specifying how the numbers were calculated.

Norway, a country bordering Russia, has been a member of NATO since its founding in 1949.

“Ukrainian losses are probably over 100,000 dead or wounded. In addition, Ukraine has about 30,000 civilians who died in this terrible war,” the Norwegian general said.

In November, US army joint chiefs of staff chairman Mark Milley said the Russian army had suffered more than 100,000 dead or wounded, with a “probably” similar toll on the Ukrainian side.

These figures cannot be independently verified, and Moscow and Kyiv have not provided reliable accounts of their losses for months.

Despite heavy losses, “Russia is able to continue [this war] for quite a long time,” General Kristoffersen said on Sunday, citing Moscow’s mobilisation and arms-production capacities.

“What worries most is whether Ukraine is going to be able to keep the Russian air force out of the war,” he said, adding that it had been able to so far “thanks to Ukrainian anti-aircraft defences”.

A grey-white fighter jet flies over a layer of clouds in an empty blue sky.
A Russian Su-30SM fighter flies over Belarus in February 2022.(Supplied: Russian Defence Ministry via Reuters)

The bulk of Russian strikes in recent months have been carried out by long-range missiles.

The Norwegian general also called for the rapid delivery of combat tanks to Ukraine, which has so far been held up mainly by Germany.

“If they’re going to go on the offensive in the winter, they (the Ukrainians) need it fast,” General Kristoffersen added.

Despite urgent appeals from Ukraine and several European countries, Berlin refused on Friday to supply its Leopard tanks to Kyiv.

The heavy tanks are present in the ranks of several other European nations, including Norway, but their delivery to Ukraine is, in theory, subject to the German green light.

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Volodomyr Zelenskyy makes direct appeal for more tanks(Steve Cannane)

Russian warship to take part in joint exercise with China, South Africa

Germany’s reticence to send Leopards to Ukraine comes as Russia prepares to flex its military might by participating in joint navy exercises with China and South Africa.

A grey metal navy warship sits in a port accompanied by a tugboat.
The Admiral Gorshkov arrives at Qingdao Port, China, in 2019.( Reuters: Jason Lee)

A Russian warship armed with new-generation hypersonic cruise weapons will join contingents from the two countries in drills near the South African port cities of Durban and Richards Bay in February, according to the state news agency TASS.

The report was the first official mention of participation by the frigate, which bears the full name Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov, and is armed with Zircon missiles that can fly at nine times the speed of sound and have a reported range of more than 1,000 kilometres.

Russia sees the weapons as a way to pierce increasingly sophisticated US missile defences that President Vladimir Putin has warned could one day shoot down its nuclear missiles.

The Admiral Gorshkov held exercises in the Norwegian Sea earlier this month after Mr Putin sent it to the Atlantic Ocean in a signal to the West that Russia would not back down over the war in Ukraine.

Wagner boss acknowledges comparisons with tsarist monk Rasputin

One driver of Moscow’s unrelenting approach, mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, responded on Sunday to comparisons between him and Rasputin, the monk who became close to Russia’s last royal family.

However, while Rasputin treated the son of the tsar for haemophilia, Mr Prigozhin said his job was not to staunch bleeding but to spill the blood of Russia’s enemies.

Two men stand over Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as he is about to start a meal.
Yevgeny Prigozhin (left) serves food to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a dinner in 2011.(Reuters)

Britain’s Financial Times made the comparison over the weekend, likening Mr Prigozhin’s growing ability to influence Mr Putin with Rasputin’s considerable sway over the wife of Russia’s last tsar, Nikolai II.

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