One of the biggest ongoing uncertainties of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is just how many Russian and Ukrainian troops have been killed and injured.

While both Kyiv and Moscow regularly make claims about the numbers of enemy personnel killed, confirmation of each side’s own losses are much harder to come by.

In the absence of official figures, the public has been largely left relying on statements from authorities in other countries.

What are the latest estimates?

The latest estimate comes from Norway's Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen, who on Sunday said: “Russian losses are beginning to approach around 180,000 dead or wounded soldiers.

"Ukrainian losses are probably over 100,000 dead or wounded.

“In addition, Ukraine has about 30,000 civilians who have died in this terrible war."


He doesn’t sound too sure?

The numbers aren’t particularly specific and have not been independently verified. Unfortunately, Kristoffersen did not give any further information on how they were calculated.

Saying that, Norway borders Russia and has been a member of NATO since its founding in 1949 so we have to assume they wouldn’t make such claims without being confident in their assessment.

Does it line up with previous assessments?

Roughly. In November, U.S. army joint chiefs of staff chairman Mark Milley said the Russian army had suffered more than 100,000 dead or wounded, with a "probably" similar toll on the Ukrainian side. 

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Why don’t we know for sure?

Moscow and Kyiv have not provided reliable accounts for their losses for months and both have their own reasons for withholding such information publicly.

Russian President Vladimir Putin fully expected his so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine to be over in a matter of days. He assumed Russian troops would be welcomed by Ukrainians and a joyous victory parade in Kyiv to mark the complete occupation of the country, achieved with minimal losses of men and machines.


Instead, the Kremlin has been left to spin the fact that tens of thousands of Russian troops have been killed by Ukrainians who were supposed to welcome them with flowers and hugs. This appears to be too much for even the vast Kremlin propaganda machine to deal with, so it has largely ignored the issue.

For Ukraine it is simply a matter of morale which remains incredibly high among both the public and the armed forces, but is inevitably suffering as the war drags on.

Ukrainian authorities have therefore been cagey about releasing official casualty figures as they fear it could adversely affect the country’s resistance to Russian aggression.

Has anything official been released at all?

Last month Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said official estimates of the number of Ukrainian troops killed “range from 10,000 … to 13,000.”

He did not give a figure for the number of wounded.

Podolyak did add that President Zelensky would make the official data public “when the right moment comes,” but he did not give any idea of when that might be.

Official figures from Russia are almost certainly vastly lower than reality. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in September said 5,937 Russian troops had been killed in the nearly seven months of fighting to that point.


As this was the last official statement on the matter, it is still the official figure.

What else did Kristoffersen say?

He added that, despite heavy losses, "Russia is able to continue [this war] for quite a long time, citing Moscow's mobilization and arms production capacities. 

"What worries most is whether Ukraine is going to be able to keep the Russian air force out of the war," he said, adding that they have been able to so far "thanks to Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses."

The bulk of Russian strikes in recent months have been carried out by long-range missiles.

The Norwegian general also called for the rapid delivery of combat tanks to Ukraine, which has so far been held up mainly by Germany. "If they're going to go on the offensive in the winter, they [Ukrainians] need it fast," Kristoffersen added.

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