You are currently viewing Russia and Ukraine claim more than 60,000 deaths in the most criminal war of the 21st century

In the first days of the war, some international organizations such as the UN, or local ones, such as the British Ministry of Defense, dared to estimate the death toll on both sides since the start of the war. That was back in March, when we still thought this might be short. Since then, we have seen massacres in the outskirts of kyiv, in the outskirts of Kharkiv, in each of the streets, ports and factories of Mariupol and all the news that reaches us from the Donbas front makes us think of a real carnage.

There are not a few testimonies from war veterans in Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq who have ended up returning to their countries repeating that what they experienced in Ukraine is nothing like that. Bombing day and nightassaults building by building, absolute disregard for the lives of civilians, trenches attacked by high-tech drones, transport attacked by land, sea and air… Calculating with a minimum of precision the exact number of deaths that this war may be claiming is very complicated, but we can get closer, of course.

From the outset, we have the data of each of the armies, although we know that they are riddled with propaganda. According to Ukraine, 31,900 Russian soldiers have died. According to Russia, 31,700 Ukrainian soldiers have died. Already the similarity between both figures invites suspicion. Strictly speaking, the attacking army always has more casualties in a war of attrition, since he needs more men to be able to take ground, while the defender can retreat as much as he needs. These figures, by the way, do not include civilians. The mayor of Mariúpol established 10,000 deaths in his city alone.

A soldier walks through the cemetery during funeral ceremonies for a Ukrainian soldier.


Both armies attribute, therefore, 63,600 deaths between the two sides. In three and a half months. To get an idea, the United States acknowledges having lost 7,000 soldiers in the combined invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. When the Soviet Union took over and occupied the Afghan country in 1979, it lost 15,000 soldiers… in ten years. The war in Donbas itself between Ukraine and Russia, opened in 2014 with the proclamation of the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, would have caused an estimated total of 14,000 deaths, according to United Nations reports, including 3,000 civilians. That, we insist, over eight years.

the waning army ukrainian

The jump to 63,600 is huge, although probably exaggerated. It is normal for each side to inflate their enemy’s casualties for propaganda purposes. In fact, the Russian defense ministry gives a number of damaged military vehicles that is already higher than what Ukraine had at the beginning of the war. they would have to be defending himself with a slingshot, if true. Let’s go with more weighted analysis: for example, that of the group of independent military experts Oryx, published this week, speaks of 15,155 Russian soldiers killed by 4,621 Ukrainians. We speak of figures “verified” by direct testimonies or images. Obviously, they do not represent the total and still do not include civilians.

In fact, the Ukrainian defense ministry itself almost doubled the number of its casualties in a report published this Saturday, acknowledging 10,000 deaths since February 24. It is a strange number when the kyiv government itself speaks of some 150-200 deaths per day in Donbas alone and up to 800 wounded a day. That would mean about 5,000 dead and 20,000 wounded per month, a number that seems incompatible with that given for the three and a half months of conflict, although it is true that, in the first weeks, Ukraine had relatively few military casualties.

Most likely, the truth lies somewhere between the 10,000 that Ukraine recognizes and the almost 32,000 that Russia attributes to it. If we multiply by three to estimate the number of wounded, as is the usual practice in this type of conflict, we would speak of between 40,000 and 128,000 troops who have been hors de combat. Bearing in mind that we are talking about an army, counting reservists, of about 500,000 men, the chances of continuing to resist at this rate of casualties are slim. Ukraine cannot sustain such a war for much longer.

The cards under the sleeve From Russia

Can Russia? Of course, not without a general mobilization, to which Putin he resists so as not to cause discomfort among his public opinion, especially in the big cities. At the beginning of the invasion, Russia put between 150,000 and 200,000 men on the border with Ukraine, to whom he has later added more volunteers, Wagner Group mercenaries, Chechens, Syrians and even troops stationed in the Pacific. In addition, they have the support of the pro-Russian militias of the Donetsk People’s Army and the Lugansk People’s Army. They have margin and they’re playing to that advantage, not caring too much about losing life in order to deal as much damage as possible.

The problem for Russia is that its troops are occupation troops, that is, it has to go leaving remnants in each large captured locality to prevent insurrections and to be able to defend the area from a possible counteroffensive. Hence his unexpected withdrawals in kyiv and Kharkov: there was no way to stretch that gum. It was impossible for Russia to attack Mariupol, hold Kherson and Melitopol in the south, threaten Odessa, organize an all-out war in Donbas…and at the same time try to maintain control over the north of the country.

We don’t know how many Russian troops are in Ukraine right now, or exactly how many have been rendered incapacitated for combat. We intuit, just as we did with Ukraine, a figure between 15,000 verified by Oryx and the 32,000 maintained by the kyiv government. That would leave us with figures very similar to the Ukrainian ones, but remember that the invading army always suffers more casualties because it needs to attack with more people. To speak of 10,000 Ukrainian deaths and 20,000 Russians would still be an estimate, but it seems reasonable given what has been seen. It would not be 63,600, but it would be 30,000. Again, more than in the other war conflicts of this century and more than in the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the eighties.

Recently, we learned of a new piece of information that could help us get closer to the real number of casualties for different reasons. According to media not attached to the Kremlin government propaganda, more than 50,000 applications have been filed to find out the whereabouts of relatives sent to Ukraine. They could be dead, wounded or missing… and obviously those already recognized by the Ministry of Defense itself are not included (they do not reach 5,000). Meanwhile, the Donbas is being left as a true wasteland. If what Russia wanted was to denazify the area and help its pro-Russian brothers, it is coming out regularly. If you just wanted to create a devastated area on your western border to protect yourself from possible future attacks, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

The price to pay for calming paranoia is what is under discussion.

Russia-Ukraine War

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.