Ukraine war: new data shows number of Russian men to have died since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine
Reports of losses on the Russian side of the conflict have varied in the past but the first independent statistical analysis has shown a new estimate for Putin's losses
The new statistical analysis was compiled by Russian independent media outlets Mediazona and Meduza, which worked with a data scientist from Germany’s Tubingen University to reach an educated estimate on how many of Putin's men have given their life on the battlefield in Ukraine. It marks the first independent statistical analysis of Russia's war dead, with varying unconfirmed numbers circling media reports for months.
Media is tightly-controlled in Russia, with documenting the war dead becoming an act of defiance in the country. The war in Ukraine has seen leaders in both Moscow and Kyiv fail to give timely data on how many losses they have incurred.
According to the data, Russia has lost 27,423 identified men since the beginning of the full-scale war last February. Russia has only publicly acknowledged 6,000 deaths in its military relating to operations in Ukraine.
Dmitry Treshchanin, an editor at Mediazona who helped oversee the investigation, said: “These are only soldiers who we know by name, and their deaths in each case are verified by multiple sources. The estimate we did with Meduza allows us to see the ‘hidden’ deaths, deaths the Russian government is so obsessively and unsuccessfully trying to hide.”
Data used for the analysis was sourced from the restricted information published by the Kremlin. However researchers also relied on a statistical concept called excess mortality, which grew to prominence during the Covid-19 pandemic. By looking at inheritance records and mortality data, researchers estimated how many more men under the age of 50 had died since the beginning of the war compared to normal.
According to their research, 25,000 more inheritance cases were opened in 2022 for males aged 15 to 49 compared to normal, with this number increasing again to 47,000 by 27 May 2023.
It comes after the UK Ministry of Defence estimated that between 40,000 to 60,000 people had died on the Russian side of the conflict. The US government also predicted in a leaked document that the number of Russians killed in action during the first year of the war sat at around 35,000 to 43,000.
Mr Treshchanin “Their figures might be accurate, or they might not be.
“Even if they have sources in the Russian ministry of defence, its own data could be incomplete. It’s extremely difficult to pull together all of the casualties from the army, Rosgvardia, Akhmat battalion, various private military companies – of which Wagner is the largest, but not the only one.
“Casualties among inmates, first recruited by Wagner and now by the ministry of defence, are also a very hazy subject, with a lot of potential for manipulation. Statistics could actually give better results.”
Both Mediazona and Meduza have been branded a "foreign agent" by the Kremlin for their reporting in the past. Meduza has been banned by Moscow after being labeled an "undesirable organisation", while Mediazona has also been restricted in the country.