Putin One Skirmish Away From Reaching 150,000 Battlefield Losses: Ukraine

The Russian Army is on the verge of losing 150,000 soldiers since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, according to officials in Kyiv.

In its daily Facebook update, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that 149,890 Russian personnel have been killed since February 24, 2022. That includes 650 personnel lost within the past 24 hours.

Russia has also lost 6,638 armored fighting vehicles, 5,257 vehicles and fuel tanks, 3,395 tanks, 2,393 artillery systems, 2,055 drones, 479 multiple launch rocket systems, 300 airplanes, 288 helicopters, 247 air defense systems and 18 boats, according to the report.

A General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine report published Tuesday stated that 550 Russian troops were killed in the previous 24 hours. Ukraine says that the Russian military has lost one-third of its fighters in just the last two months.

Ukraine Russia War Casualties Putin Army Military
Above, a member of a Ukrainian volunteer unit and a computer science student "Valdemar" (2nd R), 19, poses with his father "Customs" (L), 56, the commander Colonel "Smak" (R) and the deputy commander Mykola at their position in a suburb of Kyiv on February 28, 2023. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that 149,890 Russian personnel have been killed since February 24, 2022. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian officials reported on December 21 that Russian casualties had surpassed 100,000, an average of approximately 10,000 deaths per month up to that point.

That number surpassed Russian soldiers' previous largest casualty count since World War II.

These figures have not been verified by Newsweek.

On February 27, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published an analysis stating that Russia suffered more combat deaths in Ukraine in the war's first year than in all wars combined since World War II.

"The average rate of Russian soldiers killed per month is at least 25 times the number killed per month in Chechnya and 35 times the number killed in Afghanistan, which highlight the stark realities of a war of attrition," the study says. "The Ukrainian military has also performed remarkably well against a much larger and initially better-equipped Russian military, in part due to the innovation of its forces."

A nationwide database maintained by Mediazona and the BBC's Russian service has reported over 15,000 fatalities since launching last spring. Their figures are based solely on deaths that can be reviewed and confirmed, including social media posts by relatives, reports in local media, and statements by the local authorities.

"The real death toll is much higher," they report. "Besides, the number of soldiers missing in action or captured is not known."

The Russian Ministry of Defense has remained relatively mum on their forces' death toll. The Moscow Times reported that their last count was 5,937 troops in September, while Western officials have alluded to numbers of dead or wounded eclipsing 200,000 Russians.

Mikhail Troitskiy, professor of practice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Newsweek that it's difficult for one military faction to calculate its own losses—let alone tally that of an adversary.

"Both sides' losses counting even in the tens of thousands are indeed unfathomable," Troitskiy said. "Who could have imagined a year ago that such a tragedy could be inflicted by one country on another in Eastern Europe in the 21st century?

"Military losses apparently reflect the nature of warfare—artillery duels and massive use of poorly equipped conscripts, particularly on the Russian side. Much more tragic and criminal are civilian losses in this war, and these seem for now almost certainly to be heavily underestimated."

While neither Kyiv nor Moscow are providing precise casualty estimates, the implications are very different, said Hilary Appel, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California.

"Ukraine is under attack and defending its own territory and right to exist," she told Newsweek. "As a result, the Ukrainian population is far more willing to fight and die than the Russian population, which does not have the same motivation."

"Indeed, the Kremlin uses only abstract ideas to justify Russia's invasion of Ukraine rather than offering concrete reasons for how this war serves the interests of ordinary Russians," Appel said. "That is why the so-called partial mobilization was avoided for a long time in Russia and why so many young Russia men fled the country."

Russian fighters have also been recruited from prisons and poor regions, she added, and are "sent to the slaughter" without proper training and support.

"The very high estimates of Russian casualties suggest these populations are powerless, expendable and politically inconsequential," Appel said.

Newsweek reached out to the Ukrainian and Russian ministries of defense for comment.