Russian Defense Ministry Says Almost 500 Soldiers Dead in Ukraine Invasion

The Russian Defense Ministry said it has lost nearly 500 soldiers since invading Ukraine, its first announcement on its estimated deaths since Russia began its invasion a week ago.

The ministry announced 498 soldiers have died and another 1,597 have been injured, according to a tweet from Washington Post journalist Mary Ilyushina. However, a Ukrainian military adviser told Reuters more than 7,000 Russian troops have died and hundreds have been taken prisoner since the beginning of the invasion. A large number of Russian deaths will likely have an impact on Russia's support of President Vladimir Putin's invasion, as thousands of Russians have already taken to the streets to protest against the war.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told The New York Times Ukrainian losses are "many times higher" than Russian ones, but there is no way to verify this claim. According to the report, officials at the Pentagon have estimated about 1,500 deaths on each side in the first five days of the invasion based on communication interception, satellite imagery and reports from news and social media.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry claims that in addition to the thousands of Russian troops that it says have been killed, the Russians have lost 30 aircraft, 31 helicopters, 211 tanks, 862 armored patrol vehicles, 355 regular vehicles, 85 artillery systems, 60 fuel tanks and more.

The United Nations has estimated that there have been 142 Ukrainian civilian deaths since the start of the conflict, according to Newsweek's live updates on the situation. As Russia's attack on Ukraine enters its second week, the two countries are expected to resume peace talks later Wednesday. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters Tuesday that Russia must stop firing on Ukrainian cities before the ceasefire talks can begin in earnest.

"Just stop the bombing and then sit down at the negotiating table," he said.

The U.N. condemned the attack in an overwhelming vote of 145-5, with 35 abstentions. Even in Russia itself, citizens are showing their opposition to the invasion. Newsweek reported earlier Wednesday that Russian newspaper group VK-media published editions of several of its newspapers with anti-war messaging on their covers, above the fold. This stands in direct opposition to Roskomnadzor, the country's media watchdog that told news outlets not to use terms like "attack," "invasion" and "declaration of war."

The team for Alexei Navalny, a critic of the Russian government currently in jail, advocated Monday for Russians to practice civil disobedience and "not be silent" in the face of the invasion, Newsweek reported.

"Putin declared war on Ukraine and is trying to make everyone think that Ukraine was attacked by Russia, that is, by all of us. But that's not right," the team said on its Twitter. "We must show that we do not support the war."

Update 03/02/22 3:30 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information.

Kharkiv, Ukraine, damage
Russia's Defense Ministry has announced nearly 500 Russian soldier deaths since the Ukraine invasion, though Ukrainian estimates are much higher. Above, a view of the square outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling. Photo by Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images