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Analysis: What are the real losses of Russian soldiers in Ukraine

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine continues to weigh heavily on Russian military forces, with recent reports highlighting substantial losses in personnel and equipment. The situation on the ground, marked by intense and sustained military engagements, particularly in eastern Ukraine and around key strategic points like the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, underscores significant wear and tear on Russian forces. However, it is sometimes difficult to discern the true extent of Russian losses in Ukraine, and here we will attempt to provide an overview of the various sources and different numbers reported.
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Image of Russian soldiers in Ukraine. (Picture source: Russian MoD)

The dynamics of Russian military losses in Ukraine are staggering, with approximately 445,900 reported military personnel losses. This figure reflects an alarming rate of losses, with daily updates indicating a continuous increase in casualties among Russian troops.

However, the number I just provided comes from Ukrainian sources, which you can find HERE, and we will see that this number can vary depending on the source of the information. Analyzing Russian losses in Ukraine proves to be complex, with figures varying considerably depending on the sources.

British intelligence has released several reports assessing Russian losses in Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict in February 2022 until the end of 2023. According to these reports, Russian losses include between 180,000 to 240,000 wounded and approximately 50,000 killed. Wagner Group mercenaries are also said to have suffered significant losses, with 40,000 wounded and 20,000 killed. Thus, total losses on the Russian side would range between 220,000 and 280,000 wounded and approximately 70,000 killed, bringing the total losses to between 290,000 and 350,000 people. The average of this estimate would be 320,000 total losses on the Russian side.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has indicated that Western intelligence services estimate that the number of Russian soldiers killed or wounded has exceeded 350,000. This increase in losses is attributed to minimal territorial gains for a high human cost. A figure that closely resembles that of British intelligence services.

On the Russian side, the Kremlin is much more tight-lipped with information; indeed, no official figures are kept or announced, and we must rely on leaks or statements from Russian officials. It had been announced that in July of the year 2024, losses reached 6,000 soldiers. This information is dated and most likely inaccurate as of today.

However, the Russian website Mediazona and the Russian BBC service have claimed to have identified approximately 49,000 Russian soldiers killed since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. The count is not exhaustive, but both media outlets claim to have identified 49,281 Russian soldiers killed by using publicly available sources such as death notices, statements from local authorities, or obituaries. Note here that Mediazona only counts soldiers killed during the conflict and not the wounded. If we compare this with the figures from British intelligence, we again have a very similar number.

There is therefore a kind of consensus emerging (at least from the Western side) around 50,000 soldiers killed and 250,000 wounded, which therefore brings the total losses to approximately 300,000 men according to the sources we have just cited.

For comparison, the USSR during its war against Afghanistan had between 14,000 and 26,000 killed, as well as over 50,000 wounded. The maximum number of losses for the USSR in Afghanistan would be, according to some sources, 100,000 soldiers. When comparing this figure to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we directly observe a significant difference, especially considering that the Ukrainian conflict is still ongoing and that Russia today has fewer inhabitants than the USSR did at the time (287 million inhabitants for the USSR compared to 144 million inhabitants for Russia currently). When considering that the war in Afghanistan was one of the factors in the collapse of the USSR, one can only imagine the impact of the Ukrainian war will have on Russia.

However, all these losses must be put into perspective. Although Russian losses are potentially twice as high as those of Ukrainians, it should be noted that the Russian population and therefore the pool of potentially mobilizable men is almost four times larger than that of Ukraine.

As can be easily seen, it is extremely difficult to determine the exact number of Russian losses in Ukraine. It is even more difficult to predict the impact that this war will have on Russia and on the Russian demographics in the coming years. A demography that was already under strain before the conflict and is not improving, especially with the massive number of Russians fleeing the country following the conflict. It will therefore be interesting to monitor the impact that these losses will have on future Russia, although unfortunately for Ukraine, this will not change anything immediately. Indeed, Russia has announced a record number of volunteers joining the armed forces following the attacks on Moscow.


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