Grim death toll revealed as Zelensky says 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers dead in two bitter years since Putin's invasion

25 February 2024, 19:44

Putin, Zelensky and Ukrainian troops
Volodymyr Zelensky has said that more than 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the two years since his nation was invaded by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Picture: Alamy

By Chay Quinn

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that more than 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the two years since his nation was invaded by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

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Mr Zelensky said the number was far lower than estimates given by Russian President Vladimir Putin's government.

"31,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed in this war. Not 300,000, not 150,000, not whatever Putin and his deceitful circle have been lying about.

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"But nevertheless, each of these losses is a great sacrifice for us," Mr Zelensky said at the "Ukraine. Year 2024" forum in Kyiv.

The Ukrainian leader said that he would not disclose the number of troops that were wounded or missing.

Berlin, Germany. 16th Feb, 2024. Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, gives a press conference after the meeting at the Federal Chancellery. Credit: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/Alamy Live News
Berlin, Germany. 16th Feb, 2024. Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, gives a press conference after the meeting at the Federal Chancellery. Credit: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/Alamy Live News. Picture: Alamy

It is the first time that Kyiv has confirmed the number of its losses since Moscow started the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022.

Mr Zelensky also said that "tens of thousands of civilians" had been killed in occupied areas of Ukraine, but said that no exact figures would be available until the war was over.

"We don't know how many of our civilians they killed. We don't," he said.

In August 2023, The New York Times reported that Ukrainian forces had suffered 70,000 deaths and between 100,000 and 120,000 injuries since the start of the full-scale war, citing unidentified US officials speaking directly to Times reporters.

Russia has provided few official casualty figures. The most recent data from the Defence Ministry, published in January 2023, pointed to just over 6,000 deaths, although reports from US and UK officials put that number significantly higher.

Putin Honours Unknown Soldier On Defender Of The Fatherland Day
Putin Honours Unknown Soldier On Defender Of The Fatherland Day. Picture: Getty

A US intelligence report declassified in mid-December 2023 estimated that 315,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine. If accurate, the figure would represent 87% of the roughly 360,000 troops Russia had before the war, according to the report.

Independent Russian news outlet Mediazona said on Saturday that about 75,000 Russian men died in 2022 and 2023 fighting in the war.

A joint investigation published by Mediazona and Meduza, another independent Russian news site, indicates that the rate of Russia's losses in Ukraine is not slowing and that Moscow is losing about 120 men a day.

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