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Ukrainian forces have lost more than 80,000 troops since the beginning of the year, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday, adding that the Russian military is continuing to reduce "the enemy's combat potential."

More than 14,000 pieces of military hardware have also been destroyed by Russian forces since January, including 1,200 tanks and other armored combat vehicles. During the same period, Moscow has liberated some 403 square kilometers of Russia's new territories, Shoigu told a conference call with the country's military leadership.

Despite Kiev's lack of success on the battlefield, the Ukrainian leadership "is still trying to convince its Western sponsors of its ability to resist the Russian Army," he said. To do so, Kiev has resorted to terrorism and long-range strikes on Russian territories, targeting the civilian population, the minister added.

"Our armed forces react asymmetrically to such crimes by Ukrainian militants," the defense minister said. In March alone, the Russian military carried out 190 group strikes and two massive assaults on Ukraine using precision weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles, which targeted the country's military and energy infrastructure facilities, he added.

Last month, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that the Ukrainian military had lost a total of 444,000 personnel since the outbreak of the conflict in February 2022, including 166,000 during last year's failed summer counteroffensive.

However, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed in February that only 31,000 of its soldiers had been killed since the start of the conflict. He did not reveal how many had been injured or gone missing in action.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian military commanders have repeatedly complained about a significant shortage of manpower, prompting Kiev to seek new ways of replenishing its fighting force. This includes asking Ukraine's Western supporters to send back draft dodgers who are hiding abroad, and lower the threshold for citizens to be recruited into military service.

Moscow has repeatedly described the Ukraine conflict as a proxy war being waged against Russia by the US and its allies, and has accused the West of using Ukrainians as "cannon fodder" in pursuit of their own interests.