A Russian state TV war correspondent experienced an apparent slip-up live on air when he blurted out that the Kremlin’s armed forces have suffered “huge” losses in the Ukraine war.
Alexander Sladkov was reporting from the Donbas region, which has been the site of some of the conflict’s fiercest fighting in recent months, when he seemed to inadvertently admit that Russia’s military has been struggling.
“People here are waiting for us to get started, for us to strike with such force that the enemy ends up on its back, in other words, in a knockout,” Sladkov said, using a boxing metaphor, during a recent appearance on the Russian state TV channel Rossiya 1’s live broadcast.
“We’re losing a huge number of people, we have wounded,” Sladkov added.
The journalist immediately realized his blunder and scrambled to walk it back by saying, “We’re having great successes, we’re having great successes, but we’re not… .”
Struggling to finish his thought, the panicked correspondent tried to pivot the conversation toward Russia’s use of long-range aviation and recent strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy sector.
“But once again, we didn’t finish the job… what are the people saying? ‘We’re winning on points. But we’d like a knockout,’” he concluded.
The war correspondent’s unprompted revelation about the army’s casualties comes amid Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive, which has seen Kyiv’s forces reclaim nearly 2,400 square miles of territory from the occupying in the east and south, according to Ukraine.
In early August, the US Department of Defense estimated that Russia has suffered up to 80,000 casualties since the start of the invasion in February, including 15,000 troops killed.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense claimed on Tuesday that Kyiv’s forces have “eliminated” more than 53,000 enemy personnel, but that figure is likely inflated.
The Kremlin has offered no updates on the number of casualties since March, when Russia’s Defense Ministry said that more than 1,350 soldiers have been killed during its so-called “special military operation.”
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said this week that so many Russian troops are laying down their weapons and surrendering that Ukraine is running out of space to house them.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andrey Yusov told the Associated Press that the Russian prisons of war include “significant ” numbers of officers who “understand the hopelessness of their situation.”