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Casualties of the Russo-Ukrainian War

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Casualties in the Russo-Ukrainian War included six deaths during the 2014 annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and thousands of deaths of civilians and military forces during the war in Donbas (2014–present) and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine (2022–present).

Russian invasion of Crimea

During the Russian annexation of Crimea from 23 February through 19 March 2014, six people were killed. The dead included three protesters (two pro-Russian and one pro-Ukrainian),[1][2][3][4] two Ukrainian soldiers[5] and one Russian Cossack paramilitary.[6] On 10 August 2016, Russia accused the Special Forces of Ukraine of conducting a raid near the Crimean town of Armiansk which killed two Russian servicemen. The government of Ukraine dismissed the report as a provocation.[7] Ten people were forcibly disappeared between 2014 and 2016 and were still missing as of 2017.[8]

War in Donbas (before 2022 invasion)

The overall number of confirmed deaths in the war in Donbas, which started on 6 April 2014, was estimated at 14,200–14,400 through 31 December 2021, including non-combat military deaths.[9] Most of the deaths took place in the first two years of the war between 2014 and 2015, when major combat took place before the Minsk agreements.

Total deaths

Breakdown Fatalities Time period Source
TOTAL 14,200–14,400 killed 6 April 2014 – 31 December 2021 United Nations[9]
Civilians 3,404 killed (306 foreign) 6 April 2014 – 31 December 2021 United Nations[9]
ZSU, NGU and volunteer forces 4,400 killed 6 April 2014 – 31 December 2021 United Nations[9]
4,641 killed[note 1] 6 April 2014 – 23 February 2022 Museum of Military History[10][11][12]
DPR and LPR forces 6,517 killed 6 April 2014 – 23 February 2022 United Nations, DPR & LPR[9][13][14]
Russian Armed Forces 400–500 killed[note 2] 6 April 2014 – 10 March 2015 US State Department[15]

Initially, the known number of Ukrainian military casualties varied widely due to the Ukrainian Army drastically understating its casualties,[16] as reported by medics, activists and soldiers on the ground, as well as at least one lawmaker.[16][17][18][19][20] Several medical officials reported they were overstretched due to the drastic number of casualties.[16] Eventually, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry stated that the numbers recorded by the National Museum of Military History were the official ones, although still incomplete,[21] with 4,629 deaths (4,490 identified and 139 unidentified) cataloged by 1 December 2021.[10][11]

According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 1,175 of the Ukrainian servicemen died due to non-combat causes by 5 March 2021.[22] Subsequently, the military did not publish new figures on their non-combat losses, stating they could be considered a state secret.[23]

Deaths by regions

2018 Ukrainian Deaths
Deaths of Ukrainian soldiers in 2018.[24]

The following table does not include the 298 deaths from the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 or the deaths of Ukrainian servicemen, which are listed separately.

Region Fatalities Time period Source
Donetsk region 2,420 civilians and rebels killed[25] 6 April 2014 – 15 February 2015 OCHA
Luhansk region 1,185 civilians and rebels killed[note 3][25] 1 May 2014 – 15 February 2015 OCHA
Donetsk region 5,042 civilians and rebels killed[29] 6 April 2014 – 18 February 2022 DPR
Luhansk region 1,700–2,000 civilians and rebels killed[note 4] 6 April 2014 – 25 March 2022 LPR

Missing and captured

At the beginning of June 2015, the Donetsk region's prosecutors reported 1,592 civilians had gone missing in government-controlled areas, of which 208 had been located.[34] At the same time, a report by the United Nations stated 1,331–1,460 people were missing, including at least 378 soldiers and 216 civilians. 345 unidentified bodies, of mostly soldiers, were also confirmed to be held at morgues in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast or buried.[35] In all, as of late October, 774 people were missing according to the government,[36] including 271 soldiers.[37] By the end of December 2017, the number of confirmed missing on the Ukrainian side was 402,[38] including 123 soldiers.[39] The separatists also reported 433 missing on their side by mid-December 2016,[40] and 321 missing by mid-February 2022.[29]

As of mid-March 2015, according to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), 1,553 separatists had been released from captivity during prisoner exchanges between the two sides.[41] Subsequently, Ukraine released another 322 people by late February 2016,[42][43][44][45] while by September, 1,598 security forces members and 1,484 civilians had been released by the rebels.[46] 1,110 separatist fighters and supporters, including 743 civilians, were reportedly still being held by Ukrainian forces as of late March 2016.[47] The figure of separatist prisoners was updated to 816, including 287–646 civilians, in December.[48][40] At the end of May 2015, the Ukrainian commander of Donetsk airport, Oleg Kuzminykh, who was captured during the battle for the complex, was released.[49]

In December 2017, a large prisoner exchange took place where the rebels released 73 out of 176 prisoners they were holding, while Ukraine released 306 out of 380 of their prisoners. Out of those that were released by Ukraine, 29 brought to the exchange point refused to go back to separatist-held territory, while 40 who were already previously released did not show up for the exchange. Meanwhile, out of those released by the rebels, 32 were soldiers. This brought the overall number of prisoners released by the rebels to 3,215.[38] Among those still held by the separatists, 74 were soldiers.[50] The number of released prisoners was updated to 3,224 in late June 2018,[51] while the number of those still held by the rebels was put at 113.[52] At the end of December 2019, a new prisoner exchange took place, with Ukraine releasing 124 separatist fighters and their supporters, while 76 prisoners, including 12 soldiers, were returned to Ukraine by the rebels. Another five or six prisoners released by the separatists decided to stay in rebel-controlled territories.[53][54]

Foreign fighters

Foreign volunteers have been involved in the conflict, fighting on both sides. The NGO Cargo 200 reported that they documented the deaths of 1,479 Russian citizens while fighting as part of the rebel forces.[55] The United States Department of State estimated 400–500 of these were regular Russian soldiers.[15] Two Kyrgyz and one Georgian have also been killed fighting on the separatist side.[56][57] Additionally, at least 233 foreign-born Ukrainian citizens and 19 foreigners died on the Ukrainian side.[58] One of those killed was the former Chechen rebel commander Isa Munayev.[59]

In late August 2015, according to a reported leak by a Russian news site, Business Life (Delovaya Zhizn), 2,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine by 1 February 2015.[60][61]

Foreign civilians and journalists

At least 306 foreign civilians were killed in the war in Donbas prior to the 2022 invasion:

Landmines and other explosive remnants

As a consequence of the conflict, large swathes of the Donbas region have become contaminated with landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW).[67] According to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, in 2020 Ukraine was of one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, with nearly 1,200 mine/ERW casualties since the beginning of the conflict in 2014.[68] A report by UNICEF released in December 2019 said that 172 children had been injured or killed due to landmines and other explosives.[69][70]

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Total casualties

Breakdown Casualties Time period Source
Civilians 10,067–25,067+ killed 24 February – 18 May 2022 Ukrainian government[note 5]
3,930 killed, 4,532 wounded 24 February – 22 May 2022 United Nations[71]
Ukrainian forces
(ZSU, NGU)
2,500–3,000 killed, 10,000 wounded 24 February – 15 April 2022 Ukrainian government[72]
5,500–11,000 killed, 18,000+ wounded 24 February – 19 April 2022 US estimate[73]
Russian forces
(RAF, Rosgvardiya, FSB)
1,351 killed, 3,825 wounded[note 6] 24 February – 25 March 2022 Russian government[75]
2,622+ killed 24 February – 18 May 2022 Meduza & BBC News Russian[76]
Donetsk PR forces 1,808 killed, 7,536 wounded 26 February – 19 May 2022 Donetsk PR[77]
Luhansk PR forces 500–600 killed 24 February – 5 April 2022 Russian government[78]
Russian and allied forces
(RAF, Rosgvardiya, FSB,
PMC Wagner, DPR & LPR)
10,000+ killed 24 February – 30 March 2022 US estimate[79]
15,000 killed 24 February – 23 May 2022 UK estimate[80]


On 25 March, Russia's Ministry of Defence confirmed that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed in combat, with another 3,825 being injured. It also claimed 14,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 16,000 wounded by this point.[75] Additionally, the DPR claimed 979 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 1,150 wounded in the Donbass region by 11 March.[81] On 16 April, Russia updated the number of Ukrainian military fatalities to 23,367.[82] In contrast, on 22 May, Ukraine claimed Russian combat losses were around 29,050,[83] while its forces suffered between 2,500 and 3,000 dead and around 10,000 wounded by 15 April. Among the wounded, the number of those with potentially fatal injuries was not known.[72] According to the Meduza news website and BBC News Russian, out of 2,622 Russian soldiers whose deaths they had documented by 19 May 2022, 19 percent (491) were officers, while close to 20 percent (509) were members of the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV).[76]

With respect to Russian military losses, Ukrainian estimates tended to be high, while Russian estimates of their own losses tended to be low. Combat deaths can be inferred from a variety of sources, including satellite imagery and video image of military actions.[84] According to a researcher at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, regarding Russian military losses, Ukraine's government was engaged in a misinformation campaign aimed to boost morale and Western media was generally happy to accept its claims, while Russia was “probably” downplaying its own casualties. Ukraine also tended to be quieter about its own military fatalities.[85] According to BBC News, Ukrainian claims of Russian fatalities were including the injured as well.[86][87] Analysts warned about accepting the Ukrainian claims as fact, as Western countries were emphasizing the Russian military's toll, while Russian news outlets have largely stopped reporting on the Russian death toll.[88]

The number of civilian and military deaths is impossible to determine with precision given the fog of war.[89][84] The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) considers the number of civilian casualties to be considerably higher than the one the United Nations are able to certify.[90]

Civilian deaths

The Ukrainian government has reported more than 200 children to have been killed during the conflict with hundreds of others injured, by 18 April 2022. A month prior, on 18 March, Ukrainian authorities had announced that 109 children had been killed and more than 130 wounded, with the largest known number of casualties from Kyiv oblast where 55 children died, while 34 were killed in Kharkiv.[91][92] Russia reported Ukrainian of border areas in the Belgorod Oblast killed two people.[93][94]

Civilian Deaths by Area
Area Fatalities Time period Source
Bilohorivka 60 killed[95] 8 May 2022 Ukrainian government
Chernihiv Oblast 700+ killed[96] 24 February – 29 March 2022
Donetsk Oblast
(excluding Mariupol)
382 killed[97] 24 February – 18 May 2022
Kharkiv Oblast 650 killed[98] 24 February – 28 April 2022
Kreminna 200 killed[99] 18–19 April 2022
Kyiv Oblast 1,377 killed[100] 24 February – 31 March 2022
Luhansk Oblast 400 killed[101] 24 February – 12 April 2022
Lviv 7 killed[102] 18 April 2022
Mariupol 6,000–21,000+ killed[103][104] 24 February – 12 April 2022
Mykolaiv Oblast 181 killed[105] 24 February – 15 April 2022
Odesa Oblast 10 killed[106][107][108] 24 February – 10 May 2022
Sumy Oblast 100+ killed[109] 24 February – 4 April 2022
TOTAL 10,067–25,067+ killed 24 February – 18 May 2022
Civilian Deaths by Area
Area Fatalities Time period Source
Donetsk People's Republic 572 killed[110] 26 February – 19 May 2022 Donetsk PR
Luhansk People's Republic 24 killed[111] 17 February – 5 May 2022 Luhansk PR

Foreign civilians

At least 32 civilian foreign citizens from sixteen countries are confirmed to have been killed during the war.

Country Deaths Reference(s)
 Greece 12 [112][113]
 Azerbaijan 4 [114]
 Belarus 2 [115]
 United States 2 [116]
 Afghanistan 1 [117]
 Algeria 1 [118]
 Armenia 1 [119]
 Bangladesh 1 [120]
 Czech Republic 1 [121]
 Egypt 1 [122]
 India 1 [118][123]
 Iraq 1 [124]
 Ireland 1 [125]
 Israel 1 [126]
 Lithuania 1 [127]
 Russia 1 [128]

Foreign fighters

Excluding the Russian and Ukrainian military casualties, at least 25 combatants from other countries were killed during the war. Below is a list of the nationalities of the foreign fighter casualties.

Foreign fighter casualties of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Country Deaths Allegiance Reference(s)
Ukrainian Armed forces
 Belarus 6 Kastuś Kalinoŭski Battalion
24th Mechanized Brigade
[129][130]
 Denmark 1 Ukrainian Foreign Legion [131]
 Georgia 12 Georgian Legion
Sich Battalion
Azov Battalion
[132][133]
 Netherlands 1 Ukrainian Foreign Legion [134]
 South Korea 1 Ukrainian Foreign Legion [135]
 United Kingdom 1 Ukrainian Foreign Legion [136]
 United States 1 Ukrainian Foreign Legion [137][138]
Luhansk PR forces
 Italy 1 Prizrak Brigade [139]
 Serbia 1 Prizrak Brigade [140][141]

In addition, three British fighters were captured by the Russian military.[142][143]

Identification and repatriation

Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations, announced on 27 February 2022 that the country had reached out to the International Committee of the Red Cross for help in the repatriation effort of the bodies of killed Russian soldiers.[144] Due to concerns that Russia was not reporting the number or any casualties of soldiers in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry began issuing appeals that same day for relatives of Russian soldiers to help identify wounded, captured, or killed soldiers. The initiative, called Ishchi Svoikh (Russian: Ищи Своих, lit.'Look for Your Own'), appeared aimed in part at undermining morale and support for the war in Russia and was quickly blocked by the Russian government's media regulator the day the initiative began at the request of Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office.[145][85]

Ukrainian authorities began using facial recognition technology supplied to them by Clearview AI on 12 March 2022 to help identify the deceased, along with potentially using it to uncover Russian spies, vet people at checkpoints and potentially combat misinformation. The Chief Executive of Clearview claimed that the technology could be more effective than matching fingerprints or other identifiable aspects of the individual, although a study by US Department of Energy highlighted the concern of decomposition reducing the effectiveness.[146][147] Kyiv authorities have also reached out to the International Commission on Missing Persons, which was formed to help after the 1990s Balkan conflicts and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, and identifies individuals by collecting DNA samples from the deceased and families to cross match. The organization will also document the location of the body and how the individual died.[148]

As Russian soldiers began to retreat the identification of the dead civilians who had been unreported due to communication issues and constant fighting began to be reported. Documentation and identification of the bodies began with many hastily dug graves and rubble being cleared away to photograph and identify the bodies as well as count the number involved. Handwritten tags and passports have been attached to the bodies after identification before they are taken by coroners and officials.[149] In some locations villagers kept track of the deceased, such as in Yahidne, a village north of Kyiv, where they used a school basement wall to write the names of the deceased while under Russian control.[150]

Notable deaths

Ukrainian military

Ukrainian civilians and journalists

Foreign civilians and journalists

Russian and DPR/LPR military

DPR/LPR civilians

Prisoners of war

There have been many instances of troops being captured by both Ukrainian and Russian forces throughout the invasion.

Captured Russian soldiers during the Battle of Sumy.

Russia claimed to have captured 572 Ukrainian soldiers by 2 March 2022,[215] while Ukraine claimed 562 Russian soldiers were being held as prisoners as of 20 March,[216] with 10 previously reported released in prisoner exchanges for five Ukrainian soldiers and the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov.[217][218] Subsequently, the first large prisoner exchange took place on 24 March, when 10 Russian and 10 Ukrainian soldiers, as well as 11 Russian and 19 Ukrainian civilian sailors, were exchanged.[219][220][221] Among the released Ukrainian soldiers was one of 13 Ukrainian border-guard members captured during the Russian attack on Snake Island.[222] Later, on 1 April, 86 Ukrainian servicemen were exchanged[223] for an unknown number of Russian troops.[224]

On 8 March, a Ukrainian defense reporter with The Kyiv Independent announced that the Ukrainian government was working towards having Russian POWs help revive Ukraine's economy in full compliance with international law.[225] Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, reported that a platoon of the 74th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade from Kemerovo Oblast surrendered to Ukraine, saying they "didn't know that they were brought to Ukraine to kill Ukrainians".[226] Ukraine held a series of press conferences with about a dozen POW's, where the POW's made comments against the invasion, how they had been manipulated and for the conflict to end. While some have raised concerns that the conferences breach the Geneva Convention through potential unnecessary humiliation, US journalists who spoke to POW's independently of the conference claimed there was no intervention by Ukraine officials, by physical or mental coercion.[227] According to The Guardian, while it was likely that Ukraine was using the discomfort of captured soldiers for propaganda purposes, still the videos succeeded in showing the Russian servicemen's "authentic sense" of regret for having come to Ukraine.[228] Amnesty International argued that Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention prohibits videos of captured soldiers.[229] Captured Ukrainian soldiers with British citizenship were recorded calling for Boris Johnson to arrange for them to be freed in exchange for pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuck. The videos were broadcast separately on Rossiya 24 TV channel, causing MP Robert Jenrick, to call the videos a "flagrant breach" of the Geneva Convention. A Russian spokeswoman claimed that she had also told Johnson during a phone call about the men's treatment that the UK should "show mercy" to the Ukrainian citizens by stopping military aid to the Ukrainian government when asked to show the men mercy.[230]

On 11 March it was stated by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry that Russian armed forces were attempting to coerce Ukrainian POW's to fight for Russia in exchange for amnesty.[231] The head of the Ukrainian Coordination Headquarters for POW Treatment, Iryna Vereshchuk, raised concerns that Russia had not released information to Ukrainian authorities on the location of any Ukrainian POW's and the International Red Cross had not been allowed to see them, as of 16 March.[232]

By 21 April, Russia claimed that 1,478 Ukrainian troops had been captured during the course of the siege of Mariupol.[233] On 22 April, Yuri Sirovatko, Minister of Justice of the Donetsk People's Republic, claimed that some 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war were held in the territory of the DPR.[234] On 20 May, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that 2,439 Ukrainian soldiers had been taken prisoner over the previous five days as a result of the surrender of the last defenders of Mariupol, entrenched inside the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.[235]

Dates of
prisoner exchanges
Russian prisoners Ukrainian prisoners Reference
1 March 2022 1 soldier 5 soldiers [217]
16 March 2022 9 soldiers 1 civilian [218]
24 March 2022 10 soldiers, 11 civilians 10 soldiers, 19 civilians [221]
1 April 2022 Unknown 86 soldiers [236]
9 April 2022 Unk. soldiers, 18 civilians 12 soldiers, 14 civilians [237]
14 April 2022 Unknown 22 soldiers, 8 civilians [238]
15 April 2022 4 soldiers 5 soldiers [239]
19 April 2022 Unknown 60 soldiers, 16 civilians [240]
21 April 2022 Unknown 10 soldiers, 9 civilians [241]
28 April 2022 Unknown 33 soldiers, 12 civilians [242]
30 April 2022 Unknown 7 soldiers, 7 civilians [243]
6 May 2022 Unk. soldiers, 11 civilians 28 soldiers, 13 civilians [244][245]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The number of Ukrainian soldiers killed includes the deaths of two servicemen during the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.
  2. ^ The deaths of the Russian soldiers have not been confirmed by their government and have possibly been included in the toll of dead rebel fighters.
  3. ^ Out of the 1,185 civilians and rebels killed in the Luhansk region by 15 February 2015,[25] 456 were civilians who died by 29 October.[26] In addition, 526 of the civilians and rebels died in Luhansk city alone by 11 September,[27] of which 300 were confirmed as civilians by 31 August.[28]
  4. ^ The LPR reported 1,700 civilians had been killed by November 2021,[30] with an update in March 2022 putting the figure at 2,000.[31] However, from earlier reporting it was evident that the LPR's figures included both civilians and soldiers.[32][33]
  5. ^ See table here for a detailed breakdown of civilian deaths by oblast, according to Ukrainian authorities
  6. ^ Includes only servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces.[74]

References

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