Kyiv has claimed it "eliminated" nearly 23,000 Russian soldiers during the month of October as the Kremlin continues with its hugely costly attempt to take the town of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine.

In a post on Telegram, First Deputy Defense Minister Oleksandr Pavliuk, said as well as 22,920 Russian casualties, Kyiv's forces had also taken out 521 tanks, 843 armored fighting vehicles, 773 artillery systems, 48 multiple rocket launchers, 26 air defense systems, 741 vehicles, and 86 special vehicles.

The staggering level of Russian battlefield deaths in October come just days after Kyiv claimed Moscow's forces had suffered a total of 300,000 war dead in Ukraine. Although the figure has not been independently verified, if accurate it would mean on average there has been one Russian soldier killed in action every 3 minutes since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.


For comparison, only around 15,000 of Moscow's soldiers were killed during the whole of the 10-year Soviet war in Afghanistan.

According to official Ukrainian government figures, Russia has lost 301,490 soldiers, 5,223 tanks, almost 10,000 armored personnel vehicles, around 7,000 artillery systems (comprising almost 1,000 multi-barreled rocket launchers), as well as over 300 fixed-wing aircraft and as many helicopters.

In the Black Sea, 20 ships and one submarine have been hit, seriously limiting the ability of Russia's naval fleet to operate.

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Both the Ukrainian and Russian governments refrain from publishing information on their own losses. Western estimates of the number of Russian deaths in Ukraine are more conservative though still massive – a US assessment in August said Russian fatalities were as high as 120,000 with 170,000 to 180,000 troops injured – a total of 300,000 killed or wounded during the full-scale war in Ukraine.

In contrast, US officials said 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 100,000 to 120,000 wounded.


Russia's Official War Casualties

Russian authorities have made few public statements about Russian forces losses. In March 2022, it put the number of deaths at less than 1,500 Russian troops. In September of that year, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the Rossiya-1 TV channel that 5,937 of Moscow’s troops had died, while claiming that Ukraine had lost over 60,000 soldiers.

In the same interview, Shoigu said that 90 percent of his troops who were wounded had returned to service due to the efforts of [Russia’s] medical professionals.

Needless to say, Shoigu’s estimate did not chime with Western estimates or those, much higher, figures claimed by Ukraine.

Russia's Real War Losses

New data within the public domain indicates just how badly Russia’s forces have suffered and continue to do so.

Independent Russian media outlet Mozhem Obyasnit posted on Telegram that it had taken the draft 2024 budget estimates, issued by the State Duma, from which it says it was able to calculate Russia’s actual and predicted losses in the war.

The budget payments from Russia’s Social Fund includes one-time insurance payments to the families of military personnel killed or seriously injured during active service which is split between Ukraine and those from other conflicts. In addition, monthly pensions are paid to injured servicemen or the dependents of those who died.


Mozhem Obyasnit calculated the 2024 budget, RUB 16.3 billion (over $168 million), to be almost double that before Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Using these figures, the outlet calculated that one-time payments would be made for 102,700 soldiers killed in Ukraine with survivors’ pensions being paid in respect of a total of 239,300 troops killed.

It commented: “According to the authorities' forecasts, 100,000 Russian military personnel will die within two years of the [start of the war].”

The independent Russian website Pointmedia said that total payments to the dead and wounded in 2024 would be comparable to the estimated budgets of education and healthcare.

Russia's Wounded

Russian figures for those wounded during the war are similarly opaque. The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), in its February 2023 paper: “Estimating troop losses on both sides in the Russia-Ukraine war” attempts to eliminate the bias on both sides when declaring their own casualties or those from the other side.

The ECPR estimates the ratio of casualties to deaths for Russia and Ukraine are 3:1 and 5:1, respectively.


In other words, if we take the Mozhem Obyasnit figure for Russian deaths as 100,000 then it means 300,000 troops are also wounded, whereas if the Ukrainian estimates of Russian dead are anywhere near accurate, it means there could be as many as 850,000 wounded.

The higher survivability rate for Ukrainian forces has been discussed at length. An April article by the Ukrainian Militarniy website puts the disparity between Russian and Ukrainian survival rates down to inadequate medical care on behalf of Moscow’s military.

This includes inadequate first aid training (often none), poor availability of first aid equipment and its quality and lack of evacuation processes.

The head of a Russian tactical medicine training center, Artem Katulin, told the RIA Novosti news agency that more than half of Russia’s dead troops died from non-life-threatening wounds because of improper medical care in the field.


A statement by Russia’s Deputy Labor Minister Alexei Vovchenko at a Oct. 17 briefing to Russian politicians said that more than half of wounded Russian soldiers returning from the war required amputations, according to the daily newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

According to the Moscow Times, Vovchenko did not provide the number of Russian soldiers wounded since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion but said the 54 percent amputation rate “may indicate the difficulties faced by the Armed Forces in Ukraine.”

He went on to say that one in five wounded soldiers lost at least one upper limb and 84 percent required technical rehabilitation.


On average, each wounded Russian soldier needed three prosthetic devices, which he added weren’t “just artificial limbs, but various wheelchairs, special clothes and orthopedic shoes.”

If Vovchenko’s analysis is correct, it makes a nonsense of Shoigu’s claim a year ago that “more than 90 percent” of wounded soldiers had returned to the battlefield, as well as other statements emanating from the Kremlin.

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