Ukraine: Ukraine: Counting the human cost of the war


In two years of war in Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians have lost their lives.

The exact number of casualties is impossible to establish, with both sides giving little information about their losses, to avoid undermining morale among the troops and wider public.

The UN’s human rights office said in mid-January it had confirmed the deaths of 10,382 civilians in Ukraine and a further 19,659 injured since Russia’s invasion but that the real number was likely higher.

The number of civilian casualties increased significantly in December 2023 and January 2024 compared with previous months, reversing a trend of decreasing civilian casualties earlier in the year, it said.

Nearly 8,000 of the deaths were in Ukraine-controlled territory and more than 2,000 in zones occupied by Russia.

Ukraine’s national police has recorded nearly 10,000 civilian deaths, along with 7,000 missing and 11,000 injured in the territory it controls, according to an official on January 31.But Ukrainian authorities say thousands more civilians were killed during the siege of the southern port city of Mariupol in the early months of war, before it was taken over by Russia.A town hall official told Ukrainian television in February 2023 that at least 25,000 civilians had been buried in mass graves there.

Across the Russian border, at least 138 civilians have been killed, according to the Russian news site 7×7.

The military on both sides has kept its casualty figures under wraps due to their sensitivity.

The last official figures date back to mid-2022 and are therefore to be treated with caution.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said in September 2022 that 5,937 Russian soldiers had been killed.

According to Kyiv, by August 2022, 9,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed.

All estimates since have come from foreign intelligence services.

In August 2023, the New York Times quoted US officials as putting Ukraine’s military losses at 70,000 dead and between 100,000 and 120,000 injured.

The report cited them as estimating 120,000 dead and between 170,000 and 180,000 injured on the Russian side.

On January 29 in a written response to a parliamentary question UK Armed Forces minister James Heappey put the Russian losses at more than 350,000 dead and injured.

On February 8 the Ukrainian army estimated it had killed or injured more than 392,000 Russian troops since the invasion.

Kyiv does not specify whether the tolls include losses among pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and mercenaries from the Wagner paramilitary group or just the Russian army.

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