Ukraine's Air Assault Forces on Thursday backtracked on comments made by a commander earlier this week that its army is suffering from massive numbers of soldier deaths and lacks experienced fighters on the frontline.
On Monday, The Washington Post published an interview with Anatolii "Kupol" Kozel, the commander of the 46th Air Assault Brigade, who said that among approximately 500 soldiers in his battalion, 100 have already been killed and 400 sustained injuries leading to a complete turnover.
"The most valuable thing in war is combat experience. A soldier who has survived six months of combat and a soldier who came from a firing range are two different soldiers. It's heaven and earth," Kupol told the outlet.
"And there are only a few soldiers with combat experience ... Unfortunately, they are all already dead or wounded."
Valentyn Shevchenko, spokesman for the Air Assault Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, has since backtracked on Kupol's statements, saying the commander had not been given permission to speak to journalists. He also said Kupol "overstated" Ukraine's losses in the war.
"An internal investigation was conducted into the dissemination of false information in an interview by an Air Assault Forces officer. It was established that the serviceman had violated a number of guidelines on public communication and the disclosure of information constituting a state secret," Shevchenko told Ukrainska Pravda.
"The combat losses [Kupol] reported in the unit he commands are significantly overstated. Furthermore, access to such information is restricted."
Shevchenko also stressed that all mobilized soldiers in the Air Assault Forces have undergone training before being deployed to the frontline, adding that the trainings are conducted within Ukraine and abroad, including in the United Kingdom.
"Foreign instructors have repeatedly noted the quality of Ukrainian assault forces' training and their motivation," he added.
The commander has been demoted to deputy commander of a training center amid internal investigations. He has since resigned from his post.
It is presently unclear how many Ukrainian soldiers have died in the war against Russia. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has not been forthcoming about their losses. However, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak in December said between 10,000 to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in combat since Russia launched its invasion in February of last year.