how many russian dead?

how many russian dead?
in september, after 7 months of fighting, putin ordered 300,000 russian “reservists” to the military. the ap says russia needs to replace its heavy losses in the war. but just how big have they been?
  • the mobilization order led to protests in russia and many tried to leave the country
  • it’s unlikely to have an effect on the war in the short-term
  • but many observers say this move shows how badly russia is struggling on the battlefield in ukraine
well, estimates are kinda all over the place. on fb, ukraine’s armed forces keep a tally. as of january 24, they say ~122,170 russian personnel were “liquidated”
  • they also list other russian losses during the war, including 3,152 tanks, 281 helicopters, 2,148 artillery systems, etc.
  • the numbers are updated daily
but as of the september 21, russia said 6,000 russians have died
  • russia’s defense minister said 5,937 soldiers had died
  • he rejected ukraine’s reports of heavy russian losses
  • this is the first updated death toll since march 25, when russia said 1,351 soldiers were killed
meanwhile, in january, u.s. general mark milley estimated that russia’s lost well over 100,000 men since the war began -- ny post
  • he said russian casualties are now significantly higher than the 100,000 estimate he gave in november
  • although russia’s replaced many of those w/ its september mobilization of ~300,000 men, they’ve still suffered serious losses
so that’s a pretty big spread -- why? fortune points to misinfo from both sides of the war. it’s in russia’s interest to report lower numbers, and in ukraine’s to report higher ones
  • for ukraine, higher russian casualties = better morale
  • but for russia, higher casualties = worse morale, and risks protests and/or further resistance
  • which, again, is an obvious benefit for ukraine
but forbes says, on balance, ukraine’s numbers are prob a lot more accurate. they’re much closer to u.s. estimates -- and based on the russian retreat in the northeast, russia’s pretty undermanned
  • ukraine says they now have so many russian prisoners of war they don’t know where to put ’em
  • russia’s also losing tons of equipment to ukraine -- tanks, vehicles, artillery, etc.
  • based on u.s. estimates, russia’s not just losing a ton of troops -- it’s losing more of them, faster, every day
and there’d still be a lot of guesswork no matter what. the economist explains how the u.s. estimates casualties: russian secret intelligence, ukrainian “contact reports”, observing destroyed equipment and medical activity, and some educated guessing based on previous wars. but of course all these methods have flaws
  • russian secret intelligence may be “distorted” bc russian officials aren’t accurately reporting to putin
  • ukrainian reports can also be inaccurate bc long-range artillery makes it harder for them to estimate resulting deaths -- they just can’t tell bc it’s so far away
  • based on data from previous wars, the ratio of wounded to dead is approx 3:1, which helps estimate total casualties -- but in recent wars, that ratio has gone up
  • there are a lot of data pts to consider, all of them unreliable in their own way says there’s a lot of “fuzzy math” involved. but how many dead really is crucial bc so much of the war now hinges on sheer man- and firepower
  • this is a “classic ‘war of attrition’” -- it’s now all about which side can sustain ppl, equipment, supplies, etc. long enough to outlast the other
  • understanding how many troops russia’s lost so far is crucial to estimating ukraine’s chances
  • right now, all signs point to russia seriously struggling it’s not just about numbers, the question of who’s actually dying is important too. russia’s not just losing manpower, it’s also losing a bunch of its “elite” soliders -- think pilots, paratroopers, special forces, etc
  • precise numbers are classified, but russia’s lost hundreds of its best soldiers since the war started -- estimates say at least 900
  • these forces can’t be easily replaced by just sending in more ppl -- it takes years and tons of resources to train them properly
and foreign policy points out that u.s. and ukrainian estimates prob include ppl outside russia’s official military -- eg, separatist militia members, volunteer forces, and mercenary groups like the wagner group. otherwise russia would’ve long been toast
  • russia fielded approx 100-150k troops at the start of the war. but it’s unlikely the 60-80k estimated casualties are all troops
  • russia has “manpower issues” but it’s unclear exactly how bad it is, or how it’ll affect them on the battlefield
  • even before the official mobilization, u.s. officials referred to a “shadow mobilization drive” of volunteers and mercenaries to supplement russian troops
wapo also reports that the majority of russia’s war dead come from poor, remote areas of russia. the wealthier moscow and st. petersburg appear to be mostly spared
  • independent russian media outlet mediazona confirmed 5,185 russian war dead -- only 46 were from st. petersburg and moscow
  • the largest # of dead came from poorer regions like dagestan and buryatia
and no matter the precise numbers, the fact is that this is a really bloody, costly war. reuters reports that 15,000 soldiers dead is the same number russia suffered in the entire soviet-afghan war, which lasted a decade
  • a ukrainian general in august said that ukraine had lost 9,000 military personnel since the war started just 7 months ago
  • and in russia’s annexation of crimea and the subsequent fighting, the u.n. human rights commissioner estimates around 14,000 ppl died