The Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday offered its first official estimate of casualties suffered in the attack on Ukraine, claiming 498 Russian troops have been killed and 1,597 injured.
The Ukrainian government claims the number of Russian casualties is many times higher, up to 9,000 in total.
Until Wednesday’s briefing by Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s official statements focused entirely on the number of Ukrainian positions captured by Russian troops, with only vague mentions of casualties.
On Wednesday, Konashenkov claimed 498 Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion began last week – versus 2,870 Ukrainian troops killed, 3,700 injured, and 572 captured. He dismissed reports of much higher Russian casualties as “deliberate disinformation.”
Even if Konashenkov’s figures are low, they would still represent the largest number of casualties suffered in any Russian military operation since the 1999 war in Chechnya.
Ukraine’s state-run Ukrinform news service on Thursday reported a claim by Ground Forces Ukraine that roughly 9,000 Russian troops have been killed since February 24.
“The combat losses included also 217 tanks, 90 armored fighting vehicles, 90 artillery systems, 42 multiple launch rocket systems, 11 anti-aircraft defense systems, 30 aircrafts (information to be updated), 31 helicopters (information to be updated), 374 motor vehicles, two light high-speed power boats, 60 fire-fighting trailers, three unmanned aerial vehicles,” the report said.
“The calculation is complicated due to the high intensity of hostilities,” Ukrinform conceded.
Oleksiy Arestovich, a military adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on Wednesday claimed the true number of Russian casualties is over 7,000, plus hundreds captured by Ukrainian troops. Arestovich said some of the POWs are senior Russian officers.
Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said on Wednesday that over 2,000 Ukrainians have been killed, but most of them were civilians, not soldiers as Russia claimed.
The United Nations on Wednesday officially tallied 136 Ukrainian civilian casualties, 13 of them children, but said the count was incomplete and “the real toll is likely to be much higher.”
On Thursday, the U.N. human rights office raised the civilian casualty count to 227, again with an advisory that “real figures are considerably higher” than the number of painstakingly verified deaths counted by U.N. analysts.
The New York Times (NYT) on Monday quoted senior Pentagon officials who said the U.S. estimate of casualties was about 1,500 on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides for the first five days of the conflict. Another U.S. official put Russian losses at approximately 2,000, with the concurrence of two European observers.
The NYT noted Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs launched a website Monday that will purportedly “help Russian families track down information about soldiers who may have been killed or captured.”
The site is called 200rf.com, “a grim reference to Cargo 200, a military code word that was used by the Soviet Union to refer to the bodies of soldiers put in zinc-lined coffins for transport away from the battlefield; it is a euphemism for troops killed in war.”