Putin makes rare claim on Ukraine war casualties

Russian President Vladimir Putin this week gave a rare update on casualty and prisoner-of-war figures from his nation’s ongoing war in Ukraine, though his figures contradicted Western estimates of the human cost of his ongoing invasion.

At a meeting in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Putin told the heads of several international news agencies that there are 1,348 Russian troops and officers in captivity in Ukraine compared to the 6,465 Ukrainians in Russian detention, RIA Novosti and TASS news agency reported.

He also asserted that Moscow has only lost one soldier for every five that Kyiv has.

“I can tell you that our losses, particularly irretrievable losses, are certainly significantly smaller than those of the opposite party,” Putin said, as reported by TASS.

The Russian president’s claims contradict Ukrainian and U.S. battlefield estimates, the latest of which reported that Moscow has suffered 515,000 casualties, including more than 50,000 deaths, since the war began in February 2022. The real death toll could actually be much higher, as there are no reliable exact numbers for Kremlin military casualties.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, in February estimated that about 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the fighting, though Western intelligence officials believe that figure also is much higher.

While Kyiv’s losses appear to be lower than that of its invader, Russia has far more ability to absorb higher death counts given its larger population and harsh conscription methods.

In an attempt to keep fresh recruits on the battlefield, Ukrainian legislators earlier this month lowered the draft eligible age from 27 to 25.

Zelensky also encouraged war-eligible Ukrainian males to return to their country, as more than 4.2 million people, mostly women, children and the elderly, fled from Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.

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