Russian President Vladimir Putin last week announced a “partial mobilization” of 300,000 soldiers. That was the figure for reservists the Kremlin would call on for possible service in Ukraine. This week, we note a different figure, a statistical rebuke that the Kremlin apparently did not see coming: More than 250,000 Russians, mostly men, have left the country since Putin’s announcement. The independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper — which now operates outside Russia — put the figure at 261,000, citing a report from Russian intelligence services. And reports suggest the majority of those leaving are men.
Over the last few days, we have seen the first numerical evidence of a trend that took shape immediately following the mobilization orders. About 98,000 Russians have crossed by land to Kazakhstan, another 53,000 have reportedly driven to Georgia, and another 66,000 have headed northeast to Finland. Smaller numbers have flown out of Russia, to countries where Russians can travel without visas.; there are limited flights, and huge prices are being asked for seats.
Two hundred and fifty thousand is a startling number of departures, and a fresh humiliation for the Kremlin, which appears to have been unprepared for the exodus. Only in the last couple of days has Russia moved security forces to its borders to try and stem the flow of people. In some cases, guards are reportedly handing military-age drivers their mobilization papers. And while not all of those in long lines at Russia’s borders are potential soldiers, the majority appear to be military-age men. In the short term at least, Putin’s bid for 300,000 new soldiers has led instead to the loss of a large number of potential conscripts.
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 5,990 (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 almost 6,000, 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 14,800. (Updated Sept. 26; source.)
Ukrainian soldiers killed: 5,500 to 11,000
Top advisers to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have estimated in June 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, and in August, CIA Director William Burns assessed the number to be around 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. 28; 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.)
Total displaced Ukrainians: at least 14 million
There are over 7.5 million Ukrainian refugees reported in other European countries currently. United Nations data indicates more than 13 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. 28; source; source.)
Internally displaced Ukrainians: nearly 7 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
- How Putin’s Ukraine war mobilization order changed everything in Russia: Panic, anger and calls to secede (Sept. 27)
- World in Photos: Russians stand up to Putin over Ukraine mobilization — ‘Stop the war!’ (Sept. 26)
- More than 150 world leaders came to speak to the U.N.; the speech that mattered most was made at the Kremlin (Sept. 23)
- War in Ukraine has created a fertilizer ‘crunch’: The global food crisis won’t get solved until it’s fixed (Sept. 23)
- Here’s what the United Nations can and can’t do in response to the war in Ukraine (Sept. 20)
Learn more: Grid’s 360s on the Ukraine War
- 360: What led to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II
- 360: Casualty of war in Ukraine: The global food supply
- 360: War in Ukraine: How we got here — and what may come next
- 360: Russia’s billionaires: Who they are, what they own — and can they influence Vladimir Putin?
- 360: Why danger still looms at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants