- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2022

The Russian government says 1,351 of its soldiers have died since the start of the invasion of Ukraine now in its second month. Moscow’s figures of combat deaths, reported by the official Interfax news agency, are dramatically lower than estimates from NATO countries or Ukrainian officials.

Russia also said 3,825 troops have been wounded in unexpectedly hard fighting in Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin authorized the invasion Feb. 24. Nearly 200,000 Russian and allied troops were reportedly assembled around Ukraine before the fighting began, with the bulk of the Russian force now deployed inside Ukraine.

U.S. intelligence officials have conservatively estimated that more than 7,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in fighting since late February. Ukrainian officials put the figures at least 15,000 deaths. U.S. officials conceded determining the actual number is difficult without sources on the ground inside Ukraine, and both Kyiv and Moscow have an incentive to conceal the real numbers.

The U.S. estimates, if correct, would exceed the Russian death toll of more than 5,700 from the First Chechen War. 

The new update is the first by the Russian Defense Ministry since early March, when the Kremlin said that 498 Russian soldiers had been killed in action and 1,500 wounded. By comparison, just over 2,400 U.S. personnel died of combat-related wounds over 20 years’ worth of fighting in Afghanistan.

The exact number of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine remains a mystery. The pro-Putin Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda earlier this week published what it said were official government figures putting the number of Russian casualties at about 9,800, with another 16,153 wounded — roughly five times the latest official calculation. The newspaper quickly killed the online report and claimed its website had been hacked.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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