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Zelensky Reveals How Many Ukrainian Troops Have Died Fighting Russia

Reuters/Liesa Johannssen
Reuters/Liesa Johannssen

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that more than 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died fighting Russia—a chilling figure that was revealed just after the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

It’s the first time Ukraine has shared an official death toll for its troops in over a year, ending speculation about casualty counts as both Zelensky and Vladimir Putin have kept their country’s figures close to their chests.

“I don’t know if I have a right to tell you the numbers of our losses. Every single person is a tragedy,” Zelensky said, adding, “31,000 [members] of Ukraine’s military were killed during this war.”

Zelensky revealed the figure while speaking at a press conference in Kyiv alongside top military officials. It comes as Ukraine has recently ceded territory back to Russian forces—losses that President Joe Biden’s administration says will continue until Republicans lawmakers stop blocking a U.S. aid package to Ukraine.

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Ukraine has long kept casualty figures secret, reportedly to keep the nation’s morale from plummeting. Ukrainian forces have spent much of the last year fighting to regain territory that was captured by Russia in the early months of the invasion, but many battles have ended in high-casualty stalemates.

Zelensky’s claim that 31,000 soldiers have been killed was not independently verified. The last official casualties update from Ukraine came in December 2022, when an adviser to Zelensky said that up to 13,000 troops had died in action.

It’s unclear how many Russian troops have died in the war, but Zelensky claimed Sunday that Ukraine had killed 180,000 Russians.

A leaked Pentagon document, which was labeled top secret and dated Feb. 21, 2023, included an assessment of the war’s military casualties, The Washington Post reported.

It said U.S. officials believed that between 15,500 and 17,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, with an additional 106,500 to 110,500 wounded. On the Russian side, the document estimated between 35,000 and 42,500 soldiers were killed and 150,500 to 177,000 were wounded.

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