Russian State Media Briefly Publishes Death Toll Numbers

Emily Brown

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Russian State Media Briefly Publishes Death Toll Numbers

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A Pro-Kremlin publisher in Russia appeared to briefly publish the country's death toll number following its invasion of Ukraine before deleting the information from the site.

Russia has appeared reluctant to report the number of soldiers it has lost since Vladimir Putin sent troops across the border on 24 February, and in the near-month of fighting has only published figures once, on 2 March.

The country's defence ministry said at the time that 498 Russian servicemen had been killed in Ukraine, but more recent figures appear to have accidentally been shared by the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda today, 21 March.

The figures were spotted by readers and shared on Twitter, with one reporter acknowledging the release of the information was 'huge if true', though noted it 'probably won't stay online long'.

Indeed, another Twitter user went to check the site again only a few seconds after seeing the figures for themselves and revealed the story was 'already deleted'.

The figures do not appear to be available on the site now, but an archived version appears to have captured the paragraphs as they were originally published.

It reads (translated): "According to the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, during the special operation in Ukraine, the Russian Armed Forces lost 9,861 people killed, 16,153 people were injured."

If the figures are accurate, they would fall in line with American intelligence estimates cited by The New York Times, which last week suggested 'more than 7,000' Russian troops had been killed at "the conservative side of the estimate".

Evelyn Farkas, the top Pentagon official for Russia and Ukraine during the Obama administration, told The Times that a large number of losses may offer an explanation as to why Russia has failed to take control of the capital city of Kyiv, saying: "Losses like this affect morale and unit cohesion, especially since these soldiers don’t understand why they’re fighting.