Russian Military Says Victory "Inevitable" In New Year Message
A New Year message issued by the Russian defense ministry declared that it sees victory in Ukraine as "inevitable" - even after the Russian ground forces' advance in the east in south has appeared stalled for months, and as aerial forces take aim at the national power grid across Ukrainian cities.
"In the coming year, I want to wish everyone good health, fortitude, reliable and devoted comrades... Our victory, like the New Year, is inevitable," Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a Saturday video address soon before Russia rings in the new year.
The military campaign is now it its 11th month, and will reach one full year on Feb.24. Shoigu explained that 2022 included times that "we all faced serious trials" and that the New Year has come during a "difficult military-political situation."
"The outgoing year will forever enter the military chronicle of the Fatherland, filled with your immortal deeds, selfless courage and heroism in the fight against neo-Nazism and terrorism," Shoigu said.
"We will always remember our comrades who sacrificed themselves while performing combat missions in the name of saving civilians from genocide and violence only for the right to speak Russian," he added. In mentioning the "right to speak Russian" - he was referencing a crackdown on Russian culture and language, which has included recent moves to push forward new laws, by the Zelensky government which Moscow had complained about even before the war.
Two weeks ago, Russia admitted to just 5,937 military deaths in Ukraine, despite some Western estimates putting the figure as high as 100,000. Estimates of Ukrainian troop deaths are also difficult to assess accurately.
Recently, the US military said it estimates that some 200,000 have been killed on both sides. Citing the US Joint Chiefs chairman, a November report gave the following grim tally and breakdown:
The most senior US general estimates that around 100,000 Russian and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured in the war in Ukraine.
Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, also suggested that around 40,000 civilians had died after being caught up in the conflict.
The estimates are the highest offered yet by a Western official.
This past week, the United Nations updated its numbers of civilian casualties over the course of the war since Feb.2022. An OHCHR press release cited a total number of 17,831 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 6,884 killed and 10,947 injured.
Video of a Ukrainian National Guard Igla MANPADS team firing at a cruise missile in Kyiv. https://t.co/IzWx04rbjJ pic.twitter.com/MPMjHY7uCt— Rob Lee (@RALee85) December 30, 2022
For now the conflict remains essentially stalemated, with Russia exercising clear air superiority given it has of late been ramping up airstrikes against Ukraine's energy infrastructure - but with Ukraine forces receiving more and more powerful, longer-range weapons from the West. The US says Patriot anti-air missiles are en route, but these are expected to take six months minimum to go operational in the country.