Ukraine’s high casualty rate could bring war to tipping point

Any way you count it, the figures are stark: Ukrainian casualties are running at a rate of somewhere between 6oo and 1,000 a day. One presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, told the Guardian this week it was 150 killed and 800 wounded daily; another, Mykhaylo Podolyak, told the BBC that 100 to 200 Ukrainian troops a day were being killed.

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It represents an extraordinary loss of human life and capacity for the defenders, embroiled in a defence of the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk that this week turned into a losing battle. Yet the city was also arguably a place that Ukraine could have retreated from to the more defensible Lysychansk, across the Siverski Donets River, the sort of defensive situation that Ukraine has fared far better in.

The sheer number – more than 20,000 casualties a month – raises questions about what state Ukraine’s army will be in if the war drags on into the autumn. The same is true for the Russians too, of course. But the invaders already control large chunks of Ukraine, and they can pause the fighting with the territorial upper hand.

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