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25 Feb, 2024 17:44

Zelensky releases first official Ukrainian casualty count

The Ukrainian president has pegged Kiev’s total troop deaths at only 31,000 since Russia’s military offensive began two years ago
Zelensky releases first official Ukrainian casualty count

Only 31,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed in two years of fighting with Russian forces, President Vladimir Zelensky has declared, alleging a casualty figure far below even the estimates of Kiev’s Western benefactors.

Speaking on Sunday in the country’s capital, Zelensky claimed that “31,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed in this war – not 300,000, not 150,000, not whatever [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his deceitful circle have been lying about. But nevertheless, each of these losses is a great sacrifice for us.”

Zelensky offered no estimates for the number of Ukrainian soldiers wounded or missing. He claimed “tens of thousands” of civilian deaths in areas occupied by Russian forces, but he conceded that precise figures weren’t available. “We don’t know how many of our civilians they killed.”

The purported death toll marks the first official casualty figure reported by the Kiev regime since the conflict with Russia began in February 2022. The Russian Defense Ministry has pegged Ukrainian troop losses at around 400,000, including more than 215,000 in 2023 alone. That estimate was released last month, before Russian forces reportedly took out more than 1,500 Ukrainian troops while liberating the key Donbass stronghold of Avdeevka last weekend.

US officials told the New York Times last August that about 70,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed and as many as 120,000 had been wounded. Those same unidentified officials pegged Russian casualties at up to 120,000 killed and 180,000 wounded. Washington’s estimated casualty ratio was sharply at odds with Putin’s claim last June that Kiev was losing ten times as many troops as Moscow. Western intelligence agencies reportedly estimated troop losses of 150,000 on each side in the first year of the conflict.

Zelensky’s figure of 31,000 deaths may sound familiar. He offered the same estimate for Russian combat deaths in June 2022, less than four months after Moscow’s offensive began. He claimed on Sunday that Russian forces had suffered 500,000 casualties, including 180,000 troops killed.

Although Zelensky has downplayed Kiev’s troop losses, the casualties were apparently high enough that, according to him, the Ukrainian Army requested the mobilization of up to 500,000 new soldiers in December. 

 

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