Andrei Oreshkin, a volunteer who searches for remains of Russian soldiers, at the Rossoshka burial site


  • Austin said Russia has depleted its armored vehicles in the war in Ukraine
  • Ukraine is asking for help from European neighbors to launch a counteroffensive
  • Russia has reportedly lost more than 171,700 military personnel since the war began

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday said that Russia has suffered unimaginable losses among its ranks and equipment in its war against Ukraine.

Speaking during a hearing at the U.S. Senate Armed Service Committee, Austin said the losses give Ukraine a "very good chance" of succeeding should it launch a counteroffensive operation this spring.

"The Ukrainians have inflicted significant losses on the Russians, and they have depleted their armored vehicles in a way that no one could have ever imagined. And now we see Russia decommissioning T-54 and T-55 tanks because of the level of losses that the Ukrainians inflicted upon them," he said.

"So I think we will see an intensification of hostilities in the spring as the conditions for maneuvering improve and also based on what we have already done and continue to do. I think Ukraine will have a very good chance for success," Austin added.

The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) believes two possible scenarios could happen when Ukraine launches its counter-offensive. First, Kyiv could move its forces south and take back the Crimean Peninsula through Kherson. The second is Ukraine could move to Zaporizhzhia and challenge the "land bridge" linking the Russian region of Rostov and Crimea. The land bridge serves as a critical supply route for the Russian army.

Ukraine has yet to formally set a date for its next counteroffensive and the country's President Volodymyr Zelensky last week said they would need help from their European neighbors to launch a counteroffensive.

"If Europe hesitates, evil may have time to regroup and prepare itself for years of war. It is in your power not to allow this to happen," he said.

Russia has so far lost 171,730 military personnel in the war in Ukraine, according to estimates from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. The figure includes 570 soldiers who were killed over the past day.

In February, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published new research wherein it said Russia's combat deaths in Ukraine have likely surpassed the combined death toll of all the wars it participated in since World War II.

In addition, Russia is also believed to have lost 3,602 tanks, 2,653 artillery systems, 2,235 UAVs and 5,502 vehicles and fuel tanks in combat.

Ukrainian servicemen loading bodies of Russian soldiers
Ukrainian servicemen load bodies of killed Russian soldiers to a refrigerated rail car, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a compound of a morgue in Kharkiv, Ukraine STRINGER/Reuters