In an unexpectedly candid admission, the Kremlin has admitted to Western press on Thursday that now into the sixth week of the Russian invasion of Ukraine its forces have sustained "significant losses".
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the UK's Sky News, "We have significant losses of troops," and admitted "and it's a huge tragedy for us." He said this when pressed on the issue by the broadcast interview host, however, stopped short of giving a death toll as he said the numbers were not yet "double confirmed".
The last official Russian Defense Ministry casualty update came on March 25, where it was cited 1,351 of its forces had been killed to that point, with 3,825 wounded. But US officials have at the start of this month issued conservative estimates that they think it's likely over 7,000 killed.
Some Western media reports have posited as many as 15,000 to 17,000 or more Russian troop deaths. This as it became clear that the Russian advance especially toward the capital had been much slower-going than expected, amid a fierce Ukrainian resistance, and reportedly severe Russian logistics issues including getting adequate food and fuel to the front lines.
Sky News' Mark Austin had also grilled Peskov over mass atrocities against civilians alleged in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns, to which he responded, "we're living in days of fakes and lies." Specifically he echoed prior statements of the foreign ministry which called the Bucha images and footage a "bold fake".
"We deny the Russian military can have something in common with these atrocities and that dead bodies were shown on the streets of Bucha," he said in the interview. Peskov suggested it was a false flag meant to draw Kiev's NATO backers deeper and more directly into the conflict when he said the 'Bucha massacre' was a "well-staged insinuation, nothing else" carried out by pro-Kiev militants.
He also commented on the possibility of a NATO-Russia confrontation, which Biden himself last month admitted would inevitably lead to World War 3...
"NATO is tailored for confrontation."— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 7, 2022
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that if Finland, which has an 800-mile border with Russia, and Sweden join NATO "we'll look to rebalance the situation."https://t.co/CI2SxieQBM
📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/Jdt43VpP9b
Finland has said it's ready to take up the issue of potentially seeking NATO membership later this spring, which represents a reversal of its long-standing policy, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin days ago saying the invasion has brought with it "a new security environment." The Kremlin has since warned over the dangers inherent in this course.