News Business Russia's Military Toll in Ukraine: Over 50,000 Soldiers Confirmed Dead
The Co-operative Bank

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Russia's Military Toll in Ukraine: Over 50,000 Soldiers Confirmed Dead

By Olga Ivshina, Becky Dale & Kirstie Brewer

Published on April 17, 2024

Russia's military death toll in Ukraine has now surpassed 50,000, according to a comprehensive investigation by the BBC. The grim milestone reflects the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict on Russian forces.

The "Meat Grinder" Strategy

During the second year of combat, Moscow implemented what has been dubbed the "meat grinder" strategy. This approach involved sending waves of soldiers relentlessly to wear down Ukrainian forces and expose their locations to Russian artillery. The result was a staggering loss of life.

Human Cost of Territorial Gains

More than 27,300 Russian soldiers lost their lives during this period, a 25% increase compared to the first year. These casualties highlight the high human cost of territorial gains made by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Official Acknowledgment and Secrecy

Moscow's official acknowledgment of fatality numbers has been minimal. In September 2022, they publicly acknowledged a death toll eight times lower than the actual figure. The true number of Russian deaths is likely even higher.

Challenges and Losses

The graph below illustrates spikes in Russian military deaths during specific battles. For instance:

  • In January 2023, a large-scale offensive in the Donetsk region led to a sharp increase in casualties. Russian forces used ineffective frontal assaults, resulting in little gain and high losses.
  • Spring 2023 saw another spike during the battle for Bakhmut, where the mercenary group Wagner played a significant role in capturing the city.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov cited state secrets and the "special military operation" as reasons for withholding detailed casualty information.

Ukraine, too, rarely discloses the scale of its battlefield fatalities. President Volodymyr Zelensky previously mentioned 31,000 Ukrainian soldier deaths, but estimates suggest even greater losses.

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