May 2, 2023 -BBC News –More than 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in fighting in Ukraine since December, the US estimates.
A further 80,000 have been wounded, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, citing newly declassified intelligence.
Half of the dead are from the Wagner mercenary company, who have been attacking the eastern Bakhmut city.
Russia has been trying to take the small city since last year in a grinding war of attrition.
Moscow currently holds most of Bakhmut, but Ukrainian troops are still control a small portion of the city in the west. The fierce battle has taken on huge symbolic importance for both sides.
Ukrainian officials have also said they are using the battle to kill as many of Russia’s troops as possible and wear down its reserves.
“Russia’s attempt at an offensive in the Donbas [region] largely through Bakhmut has failed,” Mr Kirby told reporters. “Russia has been unable to seize any real strategic and significant territory.
“We estimate that Russia has suffered more than 100,000 casualties, including over 20,000 killed in action,” he added.
The toll in Bakhmut accounts for losses since the start of December, according to the US figures.
“The bottom line is that Russia’s attempted offensive has backfired after months of fighting and extraordinary losses,” Mr Kirby said.
He added he was not giving estimates of Ukrainian casualties because “they are the victims here. Russia is the aggressor”.
The BBC is unable to independently verify the figures given and Moscow has not commented.