February 21, 2024

Media investigation identifies 45,000 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine

Media investigation identifies 45,000 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine

Ukrainian border guards stand at the border of Ukraine and Belarus before the arrival of Ukrainian children in the Volyn region, on February 20, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Eleven Ukrainian children crossed the border from Belarus to Ukraine Tuesday evening, in the latest return of children taken to Russia and occupied territories during the nearly two-year Ukraine war. Emerging from the darkness at a humanitarian crossing on the Belarus border, the children hugged family members who had been waiting for more than six hours. The children were received by the Qatari embassy in Moscow on Monday before traveling to Belarus and walking across the one-kilometer border zone — while some relatives were able to meet the children directly in Moscow. Ukraine estimates 20,000 children have been forced to Russia since the war erupted in February 2022. (Photo by Roman PILIPEY / AFP)

The BBC Russian Service and news outlet Mediazona have confirmed the identity of around 45,000 Russian soldiers who died in Ukraine since the invasion began in February 2022.

The issue of military casualties is extremely sensitive in both countries. Russia has banned criticism of the conflict and no official figures have been released since 2022.

“The BBC, together with Mediazona… and a team of volunteers managed to establish the names of 45,123 Russian militaries who died in the war in Ukraine since February 2022,” the report said.

It only included the names of soldiers publicly identified in open-source data — mainly obituaries — and warned the real toll may be twice as high.

“Two-thirds of the dead we have identified had no links to the army prior to the invasion: volunteers, mobilised, prisoners and private company recruits,” the BBC’s Russian language service said.

After over a year of grinding trench warfare that failed to yield territorial gains for either Moscow or Kyiv, the Kremlin is ramping up deployments to the front.

President Vladimir Putin rarely acknowledges setbacks on the battlefield, framing the almost two-year war as a battle for Russia’s survival in a bid to rally patriotism.

Ukraine also keeps its military losses and casualties secret, although analysts believe they number in the tens of thousands after two years of fighting.