NATO: 40,000 Russian Troops Killed, Wounded, Taken Prisoner Or Missing
EUROPE - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has estimated that there have been up to 15,000 troops killed since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began last month, with as many as 40,000 troops either killed, wounded, taken prisoner or gone missing. The Russian Defense Minister is also reported to be missing for the last 12 days.
NATO's estimate was derived from information obtained from Ukrainian officials, Western intelligence and information taken from Russia via official channels or unintentionally, NATO reportedly told both the Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press.
NATO's estimate states that around 7,000 to 15,000 have been killed since the invasion on Ukraine began on February 24th. Ukraine has also stated that they have killed six Russian generals, though according to Russia, only one general has been killed thus far in the fighting between the two countries.
Among those reportedly missing is Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu who has also vanished and has not been seen publicly in the last 12 to 13 days. Shoigu was heading the military operation on Ukraine, and before he disappeared was making regular public appearances almost daily on television and in the media.
Shoigu, who is aged 66 was reported to be having heart problems by people close to him not long after the war on Ukraine started. He had been mentioned in a statement on the Kremlin website on March 18th, stating that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed "the progress of the special operation in Ukraine" but no photos or videos were posted.
Another report was aired on Russian Channel One news and said it happened 'today' (on the 18th) but the photo used was one taken from the 11th of March. On Shoigu's own profile on the Russian Defense Ministry website the last news entry was also dated the 11th of March.
Ukrainian investigators have also said that Shoigu isn't the only person in the Russian military who has seemingly 'disappeared'. Russian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov has not been reported to have attended any events since March 11th also.
On March 18th reports began coming out that Putin had replaced around 1,000 members of his personal staff due to fears of being poisoned by staff that were closest to him.
We have seen many reports that Putin's mental state is in decline, and while we initially took the reports with a grain of salt due to the propaganda going around, our intel team has noted that in one of Putin's latest video addresses, his body language and word usage does indicate a possible high degree of mental and emotional instability.
NATO is looking to bolster troops along the alliance's eastern flank with 'major increases' of troops and warned that Putin could soon use chemical weapons in Ukraine. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated on Wednesday that the alliance is likely to increase troop presence along its eastern flank and deploy four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
"I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO’s posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance on land, in the air and at sea" Stoltenberg stated.
Since the Russian invasion began on Ukraine on February 24th, NATO has readied about 140,000 troops and a large arsenal of military equipment in NATO allied countries across Eastern Europe. 100,000 of those troops were provided by the United States military.
The U.S. and NATO troops deployed in NATO allied countries in Eastern Europe however have not engaged in the fighting in Ukraine, and are instead protecting NATO allied countries from any possible attacks.
The United States and NATO have made it very clear that they will not be putting troops on the ground in Ukraine, and that the purpose for their military presence in the region is in defense of NATO allied countries only, not to get directly involved in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said on Wednesday that permanently stationing U.S. and NATO troops in Eastern Europe is on the table, however. ""NATO is in the process now of stepping back and thinking more about a medium and longer-term force presence in NATO territory on that eastern flank" Smith stated, saying that it would send a "a pretty clear message to Moscow".
"Permanent stationing could be one solution, or persistent rotations as another option, that could be on the table. So at this point, what we need to do is have our military commanders give us the best advice that they can come to us with specific proposals and then as an alliance, look at what the security environment requires" Smith said.
The NATO alliance has over 140 warships and 130 aircraft on heightened alert and has warned Russia that an attack on any NATO member state would be seen as an attack on all NATO member states, which may trigger the Article 5 section of the alliance's charter.
Article 5 of the NATO charter states that if any member of the alliance is a victim of an armed attack, each and every member of the alliance would see it as an attack on all NATO members and will take action it deems necessary to assist the ally that had been attacked.
Ukraine, however is not currently a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which means that the alliance is under no obligation to get involved in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
U.S. President Joe Biden, who is expected to arrive in Poland on Thursday after attending the NATO summit stated that there is "a real threat' that Putin could use chemical weapons to attack Ukraine.
Biden had stated earlier in the month that he believes Putin may use 'false flags' as a means to justify using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, and said, "Now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up ... asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe, [it’s] simply not true I guarantee you".
Biden stated, "back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up including, asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe – simply not true. I guarantee you".
"They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those. He’s already used chemical weapons in the past, and we should be careful of what’s about to come", Biden continued, but did not provide evidence to support his claims.
The Pentagon has also stated that they have seen "clear evidence" that Russian forces have been committing war crimes and that it has been aiding in collecting evidence of alleged war crimes that are reported to have taken place by Russia.
Last week, Biden said that Putin was a 'war criminal', a 'murderous dictator' and a 'thug' which the Russian foreign ministry said were "unworthy of a state figure of such a high rank" and that it risked rupturing ties between the United States and Russia.
Stoltenberg also told reporters at the NATO headquarters in Brussels that using chemical weapons would alter the nature of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, saying "It will be a blatant violation of international law and with far-reaching consequences" an said that the use of chemical or biological weapons could impact NATO allied countries located near Ukraine.
Stoltenberg also said that the alliance will be giving equipment to Ukraine to protect against biological and chemical attacks, as well as nuclear attacks in case Russia does decide to use such weapons against the country.
Russia has used chemical weapons in the past, including in Syria.