How many Russians have died fighting in Ukraine? New data reveals what may be the true figure

Both Russia and Ukraine are keeping their death toll from the war a secret but some are using indirect data points to tease out an estimate

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Magyar Nemzet
Relatives of Col. Alexander Negrub react as Russian honor guards soldiers carry his coffin during funerals for victims of the TU-154 military plane crash, in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

According to an investigation by the Russian opposition portals Meduza and Mediazona, approximately 47,000 Russian soldiers may have died in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine to date.

However, the real number of casualties is probably much higher; including those so badly wounded they could not return to the front, it could be as high as 125,000.

The number of Russian victims of what President Vladimir Putin labeled the “special military operation” is a secret across the country. The last time government officials discussed a death toll, they spoke of “6,000 heroes,” acknowledged in September 2022. Since then, there has been complete silence. Meduza, on the other hand, used statistical methods based on a restricted but unclassified database that records the number of inheritance proceedings across Russia.

The authors admit that the method is not perfect since not all deaths are necessarily followed by probate, and the data may be distorted by rising rates of suicide and crime. Also, the data does not include soldiers missing in action or taken prisoner, or fighters from the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, who must also have suffered tens of thousands of casualties.

As they write, their methodology is further supported by the fact that, unlike the coronavirus epidemic, the increase can be clearly identified among men of conscription age. And some of the “spikes” can also be clearly linked to combat events. As evidence, they cite an average of 11 new probate cases per week for women and 32.8 for men before the start of the invasion of Ukraine; after the war began, there was a fourfold increase in cases for deceased males.

Ukrainian death toll data is also kept secret

The Ukrainian government does not provide official figures either. In Ukraine, war casualties are considered a strict state secret, and official information is rarely made public.

Anyone who breaks the rule in any way, including via a social media post or comment, can face a prison sentence.

“Everything is on the record, every person is important, and we have all the numbers,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted previously.

In May, a “leaked” EU memo reported 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and another 35,000 wounded in that month alone. The memo also said that U.S. estimates put the number of dead at 175,000 and the number of “neutralized” at between 124,000 and 131,000 — the latter including the wounded or missing in addition to the dead. The figures were based on official Ukrainian data, news reports and intelligence information.

Although it is a well-known fact that Russia’s casualties are greater than those of Ukraine, a tenfold difference is hard to believe. One thing is certain, and all experts agree: The losses on both sides are appalling and undoubtedly in excess of 100,000.

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