Ukraine war: How many people have been killed since Putin's invasion?

It's very difficult to get a reliable figure, but here's what we know about the death toll so far.

TOPSHOT - Ukrainian service members look for and collect unexploded shells after a fighting with Russian raiding group in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the morning of February 26, 2022, according to Ukrainian service personnel at the scene. - Ukrainian soldiers repulsed a Russian attack in the capital, the military said on February 26 after a defiant President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed his pro-Western country would not be bowed by Moscow. It started the third day since Russian leader Vladimir Putin unleashed a full-scale invasion that has killed dozens of people, forced more than 50,000 to flee Ukraine in just 48 hours and sparked fears of a wider conflict in Europe. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian service members look for and collect unexploded shells after a fighting with Russian raiding group in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Getty Images)

What's happening? As the world marks the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, president Vladimir Putin has talked up his country's nuclear arsenal.

Following a series of recent tub-thumping speeches, Putin announced plans to deploy new Sarmat multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles this year. It comes after he suspended Russia's participation in the START nuclear arms control treaty earlier this week

The war is showing no signs of ending any time soon.

The last few weeks have seen Russia mount infantry assaults across frozen ground in battles described by both sides as the bloodiest to date.

Russia is in the midst of a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine and launched 90 attacks in the past 24 hours, and Kyiv believes the Kremlin is trying to use its vast advantage in troop numbers to exhaust its forces.

One year on, one clear legacy of the conflict is the enormous death toll and destruction wrought throughout Ukraine.

How many Russians have been killed in Ukraine?

Fatalities in the Russia-Ukraine war have been notoriously difficult to estimate as Moscow is thought to routinely play down the deaths and injuries of its own troops.

On the other side, Kyiv has sometimes been accused of inflating the number of enemy losses, making it very hard to paint an objective picture.

According to recent Ukrainian data, 824 Russian soldiers have been dying per day in February – more than at any time since the first week of the invasion.

While the figure can't be verified, the UK Ministry of Defence highlighted it in one of its regular updates on the war and said the number is "likely accurate".

A view shows the grave of Dmitry Menshikov, a mercenary for the private Russian military company Wagner Group, killed during the military conflict in Ukraine, in the Alley of Heroes at a cemetery in Saint Petersburg, Russia December 24, 2022. REUTERS/Igor Russak
Dmitry Menshikov, a mercenary for the private Russian military company Wagner Group, is buried in St Petersburg. (Reuters)

The MoD recently put the number of Russian troops killed or wounded in battle since the invasion at 200,000 - similar to Washington's estimates. Last month authorities in Ukraine put the number at 140,000.

However, the Conflict Investigation Team, an independent investigative team originating from Russia, believes the figure could be closer to a staggering 270,000. Meanwhile, figures shared by Norway's army chief in late January put the number at 180,000.

How many Ukrainians have been killed?

Figures on Ukrainian deaths are not 100% reliable either, due to the difficulty of collecting data and the potential for exaggeration on either side.

On Thursday, the country’s leading war crimes prosecutor claimed more than 100,000 Ukrainian civilians could have been killed.

The Norwegian military estimated in January that Ukraine had suffered 30,000 civilian deaths and 100,000 military casualties since the invasion began, but added that the number "could be both lower or even higher".

In terms of troop deaths, it's a significantly higher estimate than Kyiv's, with Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak saying in November that up to 13,000 troops had died.

In mid-February, UK intelligence said more than 16,000 civilians may have been killed since the start of the invasion, which has seen indiscriminate shelling of hospitals and schools.

Ukrainian servicemen lower to grave a coffin with the body of their brother-in-arms Volodymyr Androshchuk, who was recently killed in a fight against Russian troops near the Bakhmut town, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, during a funeral ceremony at a cemetery in the town of Letychiv, Khmelnytskyi region, Ukraine February 1, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Ukrainian servicemen bury their brother-in-arms Volodymyr Androshchuk, who died defending Bakhmut. (Reuters)

In November, General Mark Milley, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put the number of civilian deaths at 40,000, and estimated more than 100,000 troops on each side had been killed or wounded.

According to the data released on 13 February by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR), at least 8,000 non-combatants have been confirmed as killed in Ukraine, on top of 13,300 injured.

However, the UN said these numbers are just "tip of the iceberg", claiming the true death toll is likely to be far higher.

UN high commissioner for human rights Volker Türk said civilians have been killed “in their homes and while simply trying to meet their essential needs, such as collecting water and buying food”.

Casualties have been especially high in Mariupol, with Ukrainian authorities claiming more than 20,000 people had been killed during the siege of the southern port city, which was captured in late May.

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