Examining the claim of Ukraine’s 70,000 military deaths

Ukrainian military
Ukrainian military

Some Ukrainian media outlets recently circulated a story claiming that 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died since the beginning of the war, citing an article from The Economist. However, a closer look hints at potential inaccuracies in these claims.

What happened:

Several Ukrainian media outlets reported on Nov. 13 that the United States purportedly estimated Ukrainian military casualties at 70,000 deaths and 120,000 injuries. The primary source for this information was an article from the UK current affairs magazine The Economist, attributing the figures to U.S. officials.

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Did The Economist really report on Ukrainian losses?

Yes. A direct quote from the material states, “American officials estimate that at least 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the war, and that up to 120,000 more have been wounded.”

What’s misleading about the ‘news’?

The Economist’s article, titled “As Ukrainian men head off to fight, women take up their jobs,” focuses on changes in the labor market in Ukraine due to the war and male mobilization. The mention of the number of Ukrainian military casualties appears to have been included to provide readers with a deeper understanding of the context, and the figures themselves are not new.

Similar data were previously presented by U.S. newspaper The New York Times in mid-August, citing 70,000 deaths and 120,000 injuries referring to unnamed U.S. officials. Even if these figures are to be accepted, there is no reason to completely dismiss information from anonymous sources of reputable publications.

Additionally, the official position of the United States, as highlighted in the same NYT article, acknowledges the difficulty of accurately assessing Ukrainian losses due to Ukraine not disclosing official figures.

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Commenting on the NYT information, the advisor to the head of the Presidential Office, Mykhailo Podolyak, emphasized that only the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has the authority to publish data on the deceased, injured, and missing.

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In turn, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, stressed that the Ukrainian army is “not large enough to speak of losses of 70,000 military personnel.”

“Why respected journalists spread such unreliable information about our losses is unclear,” he added.

Official statements on Ukraine’s losses:

Ukraine refrains from disclosing the number of military personnel killed or injured, treating such information as a state secret, as emphasized by then Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar last year.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated on Nov. 8 that Ukrainian losses are five times less than Russian losses. However, the specific figures for Ukrainian military casualties remain undisclosed.

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As of the morning of Nov. 13, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Russia reported a loss of 312,550 military personnel. The government’s decision to keep Ukrainian casualty figures confidential is grounded in the belief that withholding such information prevents the enemy from exploiting it for their own purposes.

Malyar urged Ukrainians to avoid spreading unverified data about the number of casualties and other losses of the Armed Forces.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine