Russia lost 300,000 soldiers in the Ukraine war: Kiev

Russia has lost more than 300,000 soldiers in its grueling 20-month war in Ukraine, according to Kiev’s military, as the conflict shows no signs of abating during the bleak winter months.

The Kremlin has lost a total of 300,810 soldiers since February 24, 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion, the Ukrainian military’s general staff said on Tuesday. This updated figure includes 870 Russian casualties in the last 24 hours.

Independent analysts believe that Russia suffered heavy losses in personnel and equipment in the war, but the figures released by Kiev should still be viewed with caution. It is not possible to independently verify battlefield reports or casualty figures from either side, and both Moscow and Kiev could benefit from inflating each other’s reported losses.

However, according to Frederik Mertens, an analyst at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies, around 300,000 Russian casualties are “entirely credible” and consistent with Western intelligence estimates and open source information. That number is about what you would expect from a high-intensity war between two relatively well-coordinated adversaries such as Russia and Ukraine, he said Newsweekespecially since Russia has a reputation for being happy with high turnover rates.

Newsweek The Russian Defense Ministry emailed for comment.

Russia does not often publicize its own losses and rarely reports the alleged number of victims. In September 2022, the Kremlin put the death toll of its armed forces at 5,937; On the same day, the number of “liquidated” Russian soldiers in Kiev amounted to 55,110.

Russian soldiers in Ukraine
A Russian soldier at the Mariupol Drama Theater, on April 12, 2022 in Mariupol, Ukraine. According to Frederik Mertens, an analyst at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies, Kiev’s figure of about 300,000 Russian casualties is consistent with Western intelligence estimates and open source information.

Meanwhile, there have been several updated estimates from Western officials and intelligence agencies that put the total number of casualties on both sides in the hundreds of thousands. In November 2022, the top US soldier, General Mark Milley, said that both Russia and Ukraine likely lost 100,000 soldiers each in the fighting.

After a year of bloody and grueling warfare, including a new Ukrainian counteroffensive from early June 2023 and Russia’s recent attack in Donetsk, these numbers have likely skyrocketed.

Almost 500,000 Ukrainian and Russian soldiers were killed or injured in the 18 months of war. The New York Times reported in mid-August, citing US officials.

However, according to Marina Miron, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, UK, the government statistics released by Russia and Ukraine are part of the “information war” being waged in parallel with the fighting on the ground

“Each side is trying to paint a picture of victory,” she said Newsweek. Ukraine’s record of Russian losses is important for demonstrating progress inside and outside Ukraine’s borders, she said, and could also potentially damage morale within Russia’s military ranks and support for the war in Russian society.

“So publications like this attempt to achieve multiple goals,” she added. There are also questions about how the numbers were compiled and who collected them, she said.

The General Staff of Ukraine was contacted via email for comment.

Ukraine’s losses are probably still lower than Russia’s losses, Mertens said. Ukraine suffered significant losses against superior Russian artillery in the early months of the conflict, he said, and those losses are expected to be lower in 2023.

“But let us be clear that less serious losses are still serious losses,” he added.

Like Russia, Ukraine is unwilling to count its own fallen soldiers. The head of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said in late August 2022 that nearly 9,000 Ukrainian fighters had been killed at that time. But similar to the Moscow case, it would be of little benefit to Ukraine to publish its own statistics. Not to mention that a given number of casualties would cause more damage to Ukraine than to Russia’s much larger force, Miron previously said Newsweek.

Russian losses are believed to have risen sharply in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks following their advance on the Donetsk industrial town of Avdiivka. The Ukrainian fortress became the epicenter of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine earlier this month after Moscow launched its first major action since Kiev’s summer counteroffensive began in early June.

Reports quickly suggested that Russia was destroying military equipment and suffering heavy casualties in Avdiivka, which spent nearly a decade on the front lines.

Russian forces continue efforts to encircle Avdiivka, but Ukrainian soldiers are “standing firm” and “causing heavy casualties,” the Ukrainian military said on Monday.

Russia appears to have directed resources to the city, which is increasingly being compared to the devastated city of Bakhmut, which it has controlled since May 2023. But Ukraine foresaw this and branded Avdiivka as a future “second Bakhmut” in March, many months earlier. Moscow’s coordinated push against the city.

Russia has “concentrated a significant portion of its combat power around Avdiivka,” the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said on Sunday. The British government said the day before that Russia had probably sent parts of up to eight brigades to the area around Avdiivka.

“These elements are likely to have suffered some of Russia’s highest casualty rates to date in 2023,” the UK Ministry of Defense said.

Russia currently has around 40,000 soldiers stationed near Avdiivka, Col. Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for Ukraine’s Tavria force group that monitors Avdiivka, added on Sunday.

Russia is sending its light infantry soldiers to “certain death” in Avdiivka, Shtupun said Newsweek earlier this month.