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Russians dead in 3-month Ukraine conflict similar to Soviet toll in 9-yr Afghan war, says UK

British intelligence feels Russians may soon be willing to voice their dissatisfaction against the conflict in Ukraine as casualties grow in that country.

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New Delhi: Three months into its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Russia has likely suffered a “similar death toll” as the Soviet Union did in its nine-year war in Afghanistan, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said Monday.

Defence officials attributed this high casualty rate to many factors. “A combination of poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility, and a command approach which is prepared to reinforce failure and repeat mistakes” has led to such a high death toll, the ministry said, adding casualties continue to rise in the Donbas offensive.

The UK also said Russians may soon voice their dissatisfaction with the war as the extent of casualties in Ukraine become apparent. The British ministry said: “The Russian public has, in the past, proven sensitive to casualties suffered during wars of choice”. “As casualties in Ukraine continue to rise they will become more apparent, and public dissatisfaction with the war and a willingness to voice it may grow.”

The official death toll for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was 15,000 from December 1979 to February 1988. But by the end of March in the present conflict, senior NATO officials had put the number of Russian soldiers dead at 15,000.

A NATO official had said: “The estimate we have is based on what the Ukrainians tell us, what the Russian let us know, intentionally or by mistakes, because mistakes happen in a war, and on intelligence we get on open sources, we think that the Russians have lost between 7,000, up to maximum 15,000 dead.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations said Monday that more than 100 million people have now been displaced from conflict zones worldwide. That figure has been pushed up by the war in Ukraine, the refugee agency said.

“One hundred million is a stark figure – sobering and alarming in equal measure. It’s a record that should never have been set,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. “This must serve as a wake-up call to resolve and prevent destructive conflicts, end persecution, and address the underlying causes that force innocent people to flee their homes.”

Grandi added that the international response to people fleeing war in Ukraine “has been overwhelmingly positive”. “Compassion is alive and we need a similar mobilisation for all crises around the world. But ultimately, humanitarian aid is a palliative, not a cure. To reverse this trend, the only answer is peace and stability so that innocent people are not forced to gamble between acute danger at home or precarious flight and exile,” he said.

Also read: ‘It’s a commitment we made’: Biden says US military will defend Taiwan from China attack


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