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Recently, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy claimed that approximately 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action since Russia's invasion in 2022. Other estimates are far higher. Of course, while Russia and its allies have an interest in pushing higher numbers (up to 300,000 lost), Zelenskyy has reason to downplay the losses.

Given information such as:

  • losses in different battles
  • current active troops
  • past recruitment drives
  • information about families losing their loved ones
  • reports about troops receiving too little from long combat deployments

Is the number of deaths claimed by Zelenskyy plausible?

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    Can you provide a link to Zelenskyy making the claim?
    – F1Krazy
    Feb 26 at 11:39
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    The BBC is reporting this, and the BBC TV news last night showed the video of Z speaking. Feb 26 at 12:17
  • Perhaps this is better asked at Politics SE.
    – lr0
    Feb 27 at 17:38
  • Be very careful not to confuse "casualties" with "killed". A casualty is anyone who is rendered combat ineffective including death, injury, illness, capture, and desertion.
    – Schwern
    Mar 3 at 19:44

2 Answers 2

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We don't know the actual actual number of UA deaths in the war. That may come in the aftermath of the war when data can be more thoroughly analyzed. Both belligerents have intelligence reasons to not provide specifics or accurate numbers. There are, however, several reasonable estimates based on data in the public domain. By comparison, Zelensky's statement is an underestimate at the time it was made.

Zelensky's statement

As reported by BBC Ukraine war: Zelensky says 31,000 troops killed since Russia's full-scale invasion, this includes:

"31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in this war. Not 300,000 or 150,000, or whatever Putin and his lying circle are saying. But each of these losses is a great loss for us."

Per Wikipedia

Casualties of the Russo-Ukrainian War:

The UALosses project started at the end of 2023, found to be reliable by other projects tracking military fatalities in the conflict, documented by name the deaths of 42,152 Ukrainian fighters as of 4 February 2024.

The same Wikipedia article includes a chart that includes several estimates. A US estimate near the end of 2023 runs higher at ~70,000.

Per UA Losses Project

UALosses (https://ualosses.org/): The identified deaths remains 42,152 as of 26 Feb 2024 so there is presumably some delay in how the data is updated.

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  • "project started at the end of 2023". Somewhat strange that such a project (which appears to be anonymously run--from Saint Kitts and Nevis) had the manpower to back-document deaths to the beginning of the war. And in fact, back to 2014--they include those deaths too. I'm guessing they had an offline database before. Feb 26 at 16:33
  • The way it was "found reliable" was by comparing it with public databases published by Ukrainians. But "Among the 40,000 entries [of their] first release, there were only about 1,700 duplicates, which speaks to a high quality processing of the primary data,” adds Shapovalenko." Feb 26 at 16:40
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    Quoting UALosses as part of the Wikipedia reference and then separately for itself seems a questionable method.
    – Nij
    Feb 26 at 19:09
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    @Nij I was attempting to highlight that, despite significant combat through January and February of 2024, the estimated number of deaths had not changed from the Wikipedia entry (which cited 4 Feb 2024) and the current state of the website (which I observed on 26 Feb 2024).
    – vsfDawg
    Feb 27 at 11:22
  • That would better as an archive link to the actual source, as Wikipedia may have been incorrect previously and now happens to be correct later.
    – Nij
    Feb 27 at 18:15
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Your question basically asks if 31,000 deaths is plausible. It has been approximately 734 days since the attacks on Ukraine began (from the time the question was asked). That amounts to an average of approximately 42 deaths per day. That is plausible. Whether or not 31,000 deaths is accurate is an entirely different matter.

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  • Yeah, it's compatible with Zelensky saying they were losing 60-100/day but that included wounded IIRC. nypost.com/2022/06/01/… Actually "The situation is very difficult; we’re losing 60 to 100 soldiers per day as killed in action and something around 500 people as wounded in action. So we are holding our defensive perimeters​,” he added.​" The number of WIA reported probably included the lightly wounded ones returning to duty. A napkin extrapolation from that gives 500*700 = 350,000 WIA by now. Mar 1 at 18:15

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