Who is Anastasia Savitskaya? First Female Russian Soldier Killed in Ukraine

Anastasia Savitskaya, a corporal from the southwestern Russian city of Volgograd, is the first Russian female soldier reported killed in President Vladimir Putin's war against neighboring Ukraine, according to a local media report.

The v1.ru news website cited the chairman of Volgograd's council of veterans, Alexander Strukov, as saying that the 35-year-old died during Putin's so-called "special military operation."

"[Savitskaya] became the first female military personnel to die," said Strukov, without elaborating on the circumstances surrounding her death.

Savitskaya will be buried on Wednesday, July 13, he said.

A T-shirt bearing the letter "Z"
A T-shirt bearing the letter "Z", which has become a symbol of support for Russian military action in Ukraine, is seen on sale at a souvenir kiosk in Moscow on March 16, 2022. -/AFP/Getty Images

The news outlet cited relatives and friends of Savitskaya as saying that it was her dream to serve in the Russian army.

"Since childhood, she dreamed of serving in the army, she signed a contract at the age of 18," friends of Savitskaya said, noting that she chose to participate in the Ukraine invasion.

According to the independent investigative Russian-language news outlet iStories, some 136 soldiers from the Volgograd region have been killed in battle in Ukraine since Putin launched the invasion in February.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in May 2020 that about 41,000 women were enlisted in the Russian armed forces, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. thinktank. The figure represented approximately 4.26 percent of total active duty forces, according to official figures.

Conscription in the Russian military is not mandatory for women.

Russia rarely discloses its own military losses. Moscow last released figures on March 25, when a general told state media that 1,351 soldiers had been killed and 3,825 were wounded. The U.K. government said in April that Russia had lost about 15,000 troops.

Ukraine's armed forces, which regularly gives update on Russian losses, said Wednesday that Russia has lost 37,570 military personnel, 3,832 armored combat vehicles and 839 artillery systems since February 24.

Newsweek has been unable to verify these claims.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak told the BBC that between 100 and 200 Ukrainian troops are being killed in combat every day, amid a ramped-up effort by Moscow to seize the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Putin's forces shifted their offensive to the Donbas region after failing to capture the capital, Kyiv, in the early stages of the war.

Savitskaya was born in the city of Maykop of the Republic of Adygea, v1.ru reported.

"She grew up as a lively and courageous girl, she began her service in the railway troops in Volgograd, then served in Nevinnomyssk," friends of the deceased soldier said.

Strukov said that she heroically defended Russia.

"I express my condolences on the loss of the glorious daughter of Russia. Fighting and female soldiers seem incompatible, but fate decreed so. We mourn and are proud at the same time! Even the rain is dripping today, as if the heavens are crying! Eternal glory and memory!" he said.

Newsweek has contacted Russia's Foreign Ministry and the Volgograd administration for comment.

Update 7/13/22 11:21 a.m. ET: This article was updated with more details and context.