It is still unclear how many soldiers and civilians have been killed in Ukraine
More than 4.3 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since the war began and many have been killed – the Russian invasion has had a devastating impact.
But it is still unclear how many soldiers and civilians have been killed and calculating the human cost is challenging – and likely still will be even once the war has ended.
Misinformation is rife in modern warfare – and information released by the Russian Government is particularly untrustworthy – so gathering verified data on military deaths in Ukraine is difficult.
In all conflicts, casualty estimates can often differ due to discrepancies between sources and in how the death toll is calculated. For example, was the death a direct or indirect cause of the war? Have civilians been included?
So what do we know so far about the military loss of life in Ukraine? How does the war compare to others around the world? Here we explain what you need to know about military deaths in war and how they compare with conflicts involving the UK, US and allied troops.
What do we know so far about Russian and Ukrainian deaths?
The war in Ukraine has been ongoing for over a month now and while the true death toll remains unclear reports suggest thousands of soldiers and civillians have died.
Last month (23 March) a NATO official told NBC that up to 40,000 Russian troops have been killed, injured, taken prisoner or gone missing since the start of the war. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops have died.
The huge loss was also confirmed by Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, who today (8 April) told Sky News that there had been “a significant” loss of Russian troops since the start of the war.
Peskov said: “We have significant losses of troops and it’s a huge tragedy for us.”
However, estimates by Ukraine Armed Forces and published by The Kyiv Independent said today (8 April) an estimated 19,000 Russian troops had died.
There is no clear information on how many Ukrainian soldiers have died since the start of the Russian invasion but last month (23 March) Ukraine announced 1,300 troops had died.
The civillian death also continues to rise daily.
Latest information published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) showed there had been at least 3,838 civilian casualties, including 1,611 killed, between 24 February and 6 April.
The OHCHR believes that the actual figures will be considerably higher.
How do other wars compare to the Ukraine and Russian war?
No war is ever comparable but estimated death figures can give us an idea of how much countries have suffered as a result of conflict.
The US and UK, for example, have been heavily involved in conflicts concentrated in the Middle East in recent years, with their militaries losing thousands of lives.
Figures sourced from a report by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University shows the US experienced a heavy loss in Iraq (March 2003 to October 2019) with the country losing 4,572 military personnel. Other allied forces lost 323 troops during the conflict.
While the US lost seven troops during the Syrian/ISIS conflict (September 2014 to October 2019), Allied forces as a whole lost a huge 11,000 troops. This includes thousands of Kurdish fighters.
Figures included in the report are all approximates and gathered from various sources.
How does the UK’s loss of military life compare to other conflicts?
Another source of verified information comes from the UK Government’s Ministry of Defence, which publishes data on deaths of UK armed forces for each medal earning operation since World War II.
According to the latest figures, covering the period 3 September 1945 to 28 February 2021, UK armed forces have been involved in 33 medal earning operations resulting in 7,190 deaths. The deaths are as a result of hostile action as well as other causes.
According to the figures, the conflict in Malaya (also known as The Malayan Emergency), has been the bloodiest for UK troops. The operation ran from 16 June 1948 to 31 July 1960 and 1,442 armed personnel lost their lives.
Operation Banner – the name for the British armed forces operation in Northern Ireland between 14 August 1969 to 31 July 2007 – resulted in the second highest death toll for UK troops. In total 1,441 deaths were recorded during this operation.
The UK has not experienced a high operational related death toll in many years. The number of deaths in a single year peaked in 1951 when 829 deaths were recorded. This was as a result of deaths in Korea, Malaya and the Canal Zone.
How many deaths have been caused by conflict in Ukraine and Russia?
Data sourced from the Conflict Data Program at Sweden’s Uppsala University shows the number of deaths caused from conflict.
These differ from the previous figures we have used, as they include deaths of civilians as well as military personnel. The figures also count the number of deaths which have occurred in each country, rather than of a country’s citizens abroad.
But the data still gives a clearer picture of how thousands of lives have been lost due to conflicts in Ukraine and Russia.
Between 1989 and 2020, 7,101 lives had been lost in Ukraine due to conflict with the highest death toll being recorded due to fighting in 2014 when 4,441 deaths were recorded, likely as a result of the annexation of Crimea.
Battle-related deaths in Russia during the same time period are recorded at 25,599, with the most being recorded in 1999 when 6,197 deaths were recorded likely due to fighting in Chechnya.
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