Russia Suffering 'Devastating Losses' Among Junior Ranking Officers—U.K.

Russia has "likely" suffered "devastating losses" among its mid and junior ranking officers in Ukraine as they have been pushed into the front line, the British Ministry of Defence said in its latest update on the conflict in the war-torn country.

British intelligence claims that Russia's mid and junior ranking officers are taking the brunt of the ongoing attacks in the southeastern areas of Ukraine, as brigade and battalion commanders are put in "harm's way because they are held to an uncompromising level of responsibility for their units' performance."

"Similarly, junior officers have had to lead the lowest level tactical actions, as the army lacks the cadre of highly trained and empowered non-commissioned officers (NCOs) who fulfill that role in Western forces," the ministry said.

Newsweek has reached out to Russia's defense ministry for comment. The claim that many young Russian officers have been killed hasn't been independently verified.

The death of many young Russian officers may mean there's a lack of junior leaders available to guide the Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs), which are being reconstituted in Ukraine from the survivors of different units scrambled by the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

The Ministry of Defence concluded that these losses will likely exacerbate the "ongoing problems" within the Russian army, which has struggled with an antiquated, inflexible structure of command and control, and was crippled by the use of decrepit equipment.

With so many among the younger generation of officers now probably gone, it's unlikely that the Russian army will be modernizing itself any time soon, according to the ministry.

Losing a large amount of young officers could also cause a decline in morale among Russian troops, which has reportedly already been low for weeks.

Since the beginning of the war on February 24, Russian soldiers have been said to have been caught by surprise by the harshness of the Ukrainian response to the Russian occupation, which they expected to be a warm welcome. Troops were said to be affected by frostbite and a lack of supply, and poor discipline was reported to be seeping through the Russian ranks.

"With multiple credible reports of localized mutinies amongst Russia's forces in Ukraine, a lack of experienced and credible platoon and company commanders is likely to result in a further decrease in morale and continued poor discipline," the Ministry of Defence said.

Ukrainian armed forces claim Russia has lost over 30,000 troops since the beginning of the conflict, while in mid-May the Ministry of Defence said Moscow had lost a third of the troops initially deployed to Ukraine. The Kremlin has so far only admitted to the loss of about 1,500 troops.

Russia Ukraine death troops
Members of a Ukrainian civil-military cooperation team (CIMIC) move the bodies of Russian soldiers from a refrigerated rail car on May 24, 2022, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Some 80 corpses of Russian troops killed during fighting in towns near Kharkiv were temporarily removed from the train and placed in fresh body bags, as team members collected evidence for identification of the bodies and possible repatriation to Russia, pending the resumption of bilateral talks between the two waring countries. John Moore/Getty Images