More than a year into the Russia-Ukraine war, the conflict remains a brutal stalemate with a staggering death toll on both sides.
But the actual numbers of Ukrainian and Russian military casualties are fiercely contested.
The Ukrainian government is guarded when it comes to sharing casualty counts, even with its allies. It also makes claims about Russian injuries and deaths that are probably exaggerated. While the Russian government releases its own casualty data, the actual death and injury toll is likely much higher than the stated figures.
What is indisputable is that the human cost of the Russia-Ukraine war has been tremendous. The total number of civilians and military personnel killed or injured on both sides of the Russia-Ukraine war since its start last year could be over 300,000.
How Many Russians Have Died in Ukraine?
U.S. and European officials have estimated that as many as 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early last year.
A leaked U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency assessment posted on the Discord discussion forum states that between 35,500 and 43,500 Russian combatants have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the war last year into March 1, 2023.
An assessment made public by the United Kingdom’s Defense Intelligence provided a higher estimate for Russian deaths, claiming that between 40,000 and 60,000 Russian soldiers, including paramilitary forces, have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the war.
Ukrainian estimates of Russian soldier fatalities are three to four times higher than the DIA’s figures, but they lack credibility.
How Many Wagner Troops Have Been Killed in Ukraine?
The war has been particularly brutal for mercenaries from the Wagner Group private military company. Of the estimated 200,000 Russian casualties, roughly 30,000 are from Wagner Group paramilitary forces, according to a briefing given by National Security Council spokesman John Kirby in February 2023.
A total of roughly 9,000 Wagner mercenaries have been killed in Ukraine, according to Kirby, as of February. While Wagner forces compose roughly 15 percent of total casualties, they make up around 21 percent of deaths, according to U.S. government assessments. A majority of the 50,000 Wagner Group forces sent into Ukraine — most of whom are released convicts — have been injured or killed.
How Many Ukrainians Have Died in the War?
U.S. officials, the Washington Post reports, have estimated that up to 120,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war. While that’s lower than the Russian toll, Russia has a much larger military and roughly three times the population from which to draw conscripts.
The purported leaked DIA estimate states that between 16,000 and 17,500 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded as of March 1, 2023.
The brutal war has also exacted a tremendous psychological toll on soldiers on all sides.
Ukraine War Civilian Casualties
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), there have been 8,490 verified civilian deaths in Ukraine from the start of the war on February 24, 2002, into April 9, 2023, and 14,244 have been injured.
Civilian casualties in Ukraine tallied by the OHCHR during this period totaled 22,734, though it believes the actual toll is higher. Roughly 41 percent of verified casualties have occurred in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
The Human Cost of the Russia-Ukraine War
Upwards of 43,500 Russian soldiers killed in combat. 1
Up to 17,500 Ukrainian soldiers dead. 2
8,490 civilian fatalities in Ukraine. 3
1. Source: Purported leaked U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency document (as of March 1, 2023).
2. Source: Purported leaked U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency document (as of March 1, 2023).
3. Source: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (as of April 9, 2023).
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