Russia has finally reported the number of casualties its troops have suffered in the invasion of Ukraine, the first such report since March. Russian casualty figures have been subject to much speculation and rumor; Russian Ministry of Defense claims (like all claims at this stage) should be taken with a large grain of salt, but this update is significant as it is one of only a few official reports either side has made regarding its own losses.
Skepticism still important
The Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) has not been nearly as vocal as its Ukrainian counterpart since the “special military operation” began not long ago.
This doesn’t necessarily make its information any more trustworthy, but the announcements when they do come are likely worth more scrutiny than the more common updates from Kiev.
The Ukrainian government is now known to have a bad habit of simply making things up, as overly credulous media in the West is eagerly publishing anything it says. Anything citing official Ukrainian sources is dubious information by default, like anything citing official Russian sources.
That includes NATO reports on Russian casualties, which moderate the claims but still rely on Ukrainian figures. If those figures are to be believe then Russia has lost almost a quarter of its invasion force after only a month of fighting.
Russia has been very quiet about casualties on either side. The new report claims that Russian losses are now 1,351 dead and 3,825 wounded in Ukraine.
This excludes losses suffered by the Donetsk and Luhansk troops, Russia’s separatist allies. These numbers may still be invented, but considering these exclusions there is nothing overly unrealistic about the report.
Large percentage of KIA among reported casualties
For obvious reasons a combatant nation in a war will be more trustworthy when it is reporting on its own casualties than it is when discussing enemy dead or wounded.
Ukraine’s MOD has said almost nothing regarding its own casualties, though it is releasing near constant reports on losses supposedly taken by the Russians.
This may be one point in favor of the Russian claims, as Moscow could have simply left its losses unreported as it had been doing and as Kiev continues to do.
For what it’s worth, the Russian MOD also reported approximately 30,000 Ukrainian casualties, with roughly 14,000 of those being KIA or wounded too severely to ever return to the fight.
The ratio of KIA/WIA for both sides according to this information is very grim. This matches what we know of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, in which an unusually high proportion of casualties were killed outright.
Even if the rest of the claims made by the Russian MOD are entirely false, these numbers are at least somewhat accurate in highlighting the lethality of a modern conventional war between two well equipped armies.