Milley’s assessment, which he provided during a press conference alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Brussels after they met with nearly 50 defense leaders globally, offers a rare glimpse into the Pentagon’s evaluations on troop levels and death tolls, topics defense officials often refrain from discussing.
“The Russians have lost probably somewhere in the tune of 20 to 30% of their armored force,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff explained. “That’s significant. That’s huge. So the Ukrainians are fighting a very effective fight tactically with both fires and maneuver. And that’s significant.”
The estimate is similar to that of a senior defense official who told reporters in mid-April that the Pentagon believed Russia still had roughly 75% of the capabilities that it had at the beginning of the invasion, though the official said more recently that the Pentagon is no longer calculating this figure. The U.K. Defense Ministry said on May 15 that the Russians had lost roughly a third of the ground combat forces that had been committed to the fight.
The Russian military had amassed roughly 170,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders prior to its invasion in late February. They have lost more than 30,000 troops since then, according to the Ukrainian military, which provides regular updates on the opposing side’s death toll. The number could not be independently verified.
President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday the latest tranche of military aid in the amount of $1 billion. They have progressively increased the weapons provided, and the new package includes 18 155m howitzers, the same number of vehicles to tow them, 36,000 rounds of ammunition, two harpoon coastal defense systems, and thousands of secure radios, night vision devices, thermal sights, and other optical devices.