Russia Losses in Ukraine Surpass 100k

More than 100,000 Russian soldiers have now been killed in Ukraine since Moscow's invasion began on February 24, according to daily updates released by the Ukrainian government.

On Wednesday, 660 Russian troops were killed in Ukraine, bringing the total Russian deaths to 100,400.

This means Russian forces have lost an average of around 10,000 troops killed each month since February. The conflict since February has been Russia's most costly in terms of military casualties since World War II.

Wednesday's total collated by the Ukrainian military included another Russian aircraft, one tank, two armored personnel carriers, seven artillery systems, seven other vehicles, and five drones

Ukrainian soldiers carry dead Russian soldier Kharkiv
Ukrainian servicemen the body of a killed Russian soldier found in a destroyed hospital building of the liberated village of Petropavlivka near Kupiansk, Kharkiv region on December 15, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

Russia does not routinely release figures on troop casualties or equipment losses. Moscow has so far confirmed the deaths of fewer than 6,000 troops, plus fewer than 4,000 additional fighters drawn from Russia's puppet "people's republics" set up the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts after the 2014 invasion.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry to request comment.

Ukraine is equally guarded about its own military casualties. Thus far, Kyiv has only admitted 13,000 deaths since February 24.

Ukraine's backers abroad have shed a little more light on Kyiv's possible losses. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have hinted at some 100,000 total casualties on the Ukrainian side, though this may include military and civilian dead as well as wounded.

Winter has slowed combat operations on the southern and eastern fronts, but heavy fighting continues around the Donetsk city of Bakhmut, where Moscow appears intent on achieving a largely symbolic victory despite significant casualties.

President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the city on Tuesday and urged the "heroes" fighting there to "preserve your persistence." The president added: "History only remembers the victors, the strong and the brave."

President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is hoping that hundreds of thousands of mobilized troops can plug the holes in Russian lines and make his forces ready to resume offensive operations in 2023.

Putin admitted this week that the situation in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine is "extremely difficult."

Ukrainian leaders have warned that Moscow might be looking to open a new front along the Belarus-Ukraine border, speculating that Putin's visit to Minsk this week was the latest step in an effort to push Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko to send his own troops across the border.

Such a move would be risky, experts have suggested. A Russo-Belarusian invasion force heading south into Ukraine would face the same problems—and perhaps the same high casualties—as the group that tried to capture Kyiv in the spring.

Defeat for a Belarusian force may also prompt a resurgence of the pro-democracy mass movement that almost unseated Lukashenko in 2020.

The tempo of fighting is likely to increase in January, when frozen ground will allow new mechanized offensives.

Both Ukraine and Russia are thought to be planning their own operations, with Kyiv likely focused on the occupied southern corridor stretching from Zaporizhzhia though occupied Melitopol and towards the Azov Sea coast and Crimea.