Putin Throwing 'Meat Into the Grinder' as War Losses Grow: Former Lawmaker

Russian President Vladimir Putin's persistence in Ukraine has been likened to "throwing meat into the grinder" by one former United States lawmaker, who also added that "it's only getting worse."

Richard Ojeda served in the U.S. Army from 1989-2014, reaching the rank of major before transitioning to the political realm. He was later elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat from West Virginia's 7th Congressional District, serving from 2016 to 2019. He also launched a brief unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2020, followed by an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate.

Since the start of the conflict last year, Ojeda has been outspoken in his support of Ukraine against the invading Russian forces, frequently using his military background to weigh in on new developments. On Saturday, the former lawmaker shared an up-to-date graphic from the Kyiv Independent detailing Russia's mounting losses in the conflict, offering a grim assessment of where the country stands.

"These losses are unsustainable," Ojeda wrote. "Putin is throwing meat into the grinder and it's only getting worse. Tanks are about to be injected into this war that are far more capable than that of Russia's. Russia was a paper Tiger and Ukraine proved that!"

The graphic from the Kyiv Independent is updated daily with new statistics from the Ukrainian Army. As of Saturday, Russian forces had notably lost approximately 125,510 soldiers, up 800 from Friday, as well as four additional tanks and 26 additional fuel transport vehicles.

putin losses in ukraine
Above, a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. A former U.S. Army Major and congressman on Saturday asserted that Russia's mounting losses in Ukraine were unsustainable. Ramil Sitdikov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

"Russia (regular forces but especially the private Wagner Group that has used many thousands of prisoners who have been promised pardons in exchange for fighting on the front lines) has indeed sustained heavy losses in the recent battle in Soledar and Bakhmut, both in Ukrainan-held Donetsk province," military expert Rajan Menon from the Defense Priorities think-tank told Newsweek on Sunday. "Ukraine has also suffered significant casualties but Russia's have been far greater, mainly because poorly equipped prisoners are being used as human waves, one after the other.

He continued: "Why do these heavy Russian losses matter? Because even if Bakhmut falls, that plus Soledar won't be anything close to a turning point in the Donbas region, let alone the larger Ukrainian battlefield. It will be a tactical win, which may be later forfeited, and one gained at a very steep price."

As Ojeda mentioned, the Ukrainian armed forces are set to receive a major influx of highly sought-after tanks as part of new military aid packages, including 31 M1 Abrams tanks from the U.S. and 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks from Germany and 14 Challenger 2 tanks from the U.K. These announced shipments followed an impassioned plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, calling on allies to provide tanks.

"I could thank you hundreds of times, and it would be absolutely just and fair, given all that we have already done," Zelensky said during the summit on January 20. "But hundreds of thanks are not hundreds of tanks. All of us can use thousands of words in discussions, but I cannot put words instead of the guns that are needed against Russian artillery or instead of the anti-aircraft missiles that are needed to protect people from Russian air strikes."

Russia, for its part, has been dismissive of the new shipment of tanks to Ukraine, vowing that "American tanks without any doubt will be destroyed as all other samples of NATO military equipment," in a statement provided to Newsweek.

Updated 01/29/2023, 5:35 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include comment from military expert Rajan Menon.