Soldier Life Expectancy in Ukraine 'Meat Grinder' Is 4 Hours: Marine
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Soldier Life Expectancy in Ukraine 'Meat Grinder' Is 4 Hours: Marine

Oct 09, 2023

The average life expectancy of a front-line soldier in eastern Ukraine is just four hours, a retired US Marine fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region told ABC News.

"It's been pretty bad on the ground, a lot of casualties. The life expectancy is around four hours on the front line," Troy Offenbecker, the American fighter, said.

Eastern Ukraine's war-torn city of Bakhmut has been the site of some of the bloodiest fighting since Russia's invasion of its neighbor began almost one year ago. The battle for the city, which had a prewar population of about 73,000 people, is the longest-running of the war.

Fighting in Bakhmut is so bad, Offenbecker said, that it's been dubbed "the meat grinder." In early January, a senior US military official described combat in and around this town, which appears to have limited strategic significance to both Russia and Ukraine, as "really severe and savage."

"You're talking about thousands upon thousands of artillery rounds that have been delivered between both sides," the official said at the time. "In many cases, you know, you're looking at, you know, several thousand artillery rounds in a day that are being exchanged."

Bakhmut has been a major target for Russian offensive forces, which include both its regular military and the notorious Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked mercenary organization. Russia has been under "increasing political pressure" to claim some victories ahead of the anniversary of the invasion, according to a Monday intelligence update from Britain's Defense Ministry.

"It is likely that Russia will claim that Bakhmut has been captured to align with the anniversary, regardless of the reality on the ground," the update said.

Bakhmut, which is in Ukraine's occupied Donetsk region, has been besieged by Russian forces throughout much of the war. Late last year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it had been reduced to "burned ruins."

Despite a months-long attempt by Russian forces to encircle the city, Ukrainian troops have provided a stiff defense that has prevented the Russians from capturing it. Meanwhile, Western intelligence estimates that Russia may have suffered as many as 200,000 casualties while fighting in Ukraine, including up to 60,000 troops killed.

"They have, in some categories, lost more than half of their military equipment in this war, and more than a million of the brightest and best Russians have left the country," Victoria Nuland, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, said earlier this week. "So what is this war bringing the average Russian? Nothing."

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