Russia acknowledges nearly 6,000 casualties: The Ukraine War in data

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The Ukraine War in data: Russia acknowledges nearly 6,000 war dead (the real figure is probably much higher)

From the first days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has been one of the most difficult pieces of war-related information to assess with accuracy: the number of Russian military casualties. On Wednesday, the Kremlin provided a rare acknowledgment of the losses — buried in a series of other announcements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Those announcements drew attention primarily to the call-up of 300,000 Russian reservists, and Putin’s thinly veiled warning that he may use nuclear weapons if the U.S. and NATO continue to cross what Putin called “red lines.” But for the first time since March, the Kremlin also provided a casualty count to the Russian people. Back then, the official figure given was 1,351 Russians killed. Now, six months later, Russia acknowledges the deaths of 5,936 Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

That number is almost certainly an undercount, as we have noted in this space for weeks. The United States, NATO and the Ukrainians have assessed Russian losses at anywhere from 10,000 to more than 50,000, although that high-end figure — from Ukraine — is almost certainly a fiction as well.

But the new statistic may still surprise and upset a great many Russians who for all these months have been told that this was not a war, but a small “special military operation,” one that would end quickly, without much harm to the nation. None of the Kremlin’s language — until now — would have prepared the Russian public for the news that nearly 6,000 of its citizens have died in Ukraine.

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Grid’s reporting is based on the best available data and reporting; in some cases, we explained a range of figures or the reason we chose one over another. We originally published this document March 24 and will update it every Thursday as long as the war persists.

Civilians killed: at least 5,900 (probably thousands more)

On June 7, a Ukrainian official said at least 40,000 Ukrainian civilians had been killed or wounded since the war began. The official offered no breakdown of dead versus wounded civilians. The United Nations’ latest estimate of civilians killed is more than 5,900, but it consistently notes the figure is an undercount, as is its estimate of total casualties — a combination of deaths and injuries — given as over 14,000. (Updated Sept. 21; source.)

Ukrainian soldiers killed: 5,500 to 11,000

Top advisers to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have estimated that 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the war began. Meanwhile, on Aug. 22, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, said the country had lost about 9,000 troops. In mid-April, U.S. intelligence officials put the number at 5,500 to 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed since the invasion. On June 10, an adviser to Zelenskyy said Ukraine was losing as many as 200 soldiers each day. (Updated Aug. 24; source, source, source.)

Russian soldiers killed: 5,937 to over 50,000

Ukraine has raised its estimate of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict to more than 50,000. In March, NATO estimated Russian troop losses at between 7,000 and 15,000. In its first update on casualties since March, on Wednesday, Russia claimed there were 5,937 military deaths. Russian spokesman Dimitry Peskov said in April that there have been “significant losses of troops, and it’s a huge tragedy for us.” (Updated Sept. 21; source, source, source.)

Russian generals killed: 8 to 13

A retired Russian general was reportedly shot down over Luhansk in late May — by Ukrainian counts, this was the 13th Russian general to be killed in Ukraine. Previously, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that eight to 10 Russian generals had been killed in Ukraine. Grid’s Tom Nagorski and Joshua Keating previously reported on the possible explanations for this “inconceivable” toll: poor communications and command-and-control structures within the Russian military. (Updated May 25; source, source.)

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Total displaced Ukrainians: at least 14 million

There are about 7.4 million Ukrainian refugees reported in other European countries currently. United Nations data indicates more than 11 million Ukrainians have crossed the border since the start of the war, but millions have returned home, largely from Poland, as Nikhil Kumar and Kseniia Lisnycha reported. The International Organization for Migration’s latest survey of internally displaced Ukrainians, in late August, found more Ukrainians returning home from within Ukraine, but nearly 7 million remained displaced within their own country. (Updated Sept. 21; source; source.)

Internally displaced Ukrainians: more than 6.9 million

An overview of the violence


Global food markets: Wheat prices back to preinvasion levels, as of Wednesday, after weeks of fluctuation


Recent Grid coverage

Learn more: Grid’s 360s on the Ukraine War

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