26 February 2024

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Ukraine war

Around 50,000 Russian men have died in Ukraine war: Latest Statics

According to the first impartial statistical analysis of Russia’s war dead, about 50,000 Russian men have been killed in the conflict in Ukraine.

Working with a data scientist from Germany’s Tübingen University, two independent Russian media outlets, Mediazona and Meduza, exploited Russian government data to cast light on one of Moscow’s most well-guarded secrets: the exact human cost of its invasion of Ukraine.

Currently, neither Moscow nor Kyiv provides timely figures on military losses, and both sides work hard to exaggerate the other’s deaths. Russia has publicly admitted to the deaths of approximately 6,000 servicemen.

Ukraine’s war has been raging for a year and a half, with no end in sight. However, it has already taken a major toll on both countries, wreaking havoc on Europe not seen since the end of World War II.

Calculating excess mortality of Ukraine war

Using official inheritance records and mortality data, the researchers calculated how many more men under the age of 50 died than usual between February 2022 and May 2023.

Mediazona and Meduza journalists discovered data on inheritance cases filed with Russian authorities. Their National Probate Registry data contains information on around 11 million persons who died between 2014 and May 2023.

According to their data, 25,000 more inheritance cases for males aged 15 to 49 were opened in 2022 than projected. The number of extra cases has risen to 47,000 on May 27, 2023. This increase is consistent with assessments from the US and UK intelligence services.

Ukraine war

Dmitry Kobak, a data scientist from Germany’s Tübingen University who has published work on excess COVID-19 deaths in Russia, got mortality data broken down by age and sex for 2022 from Rosstat, Russia’s official statistics agency, at the same time and independently. He discovered that 24,000 more men under the age of 50 died in 2022 than predicted, a statistic that corresponds to inheritance data analysis.

Furthermore, the research used social media postings and images of cemeteries around Russia, as well as a network of volunteers, to create a database of confirmed war dead. They had identified 27,423 dead Russian soldiers as of July 7 on Ukraine war.

“These are only soldiers we know by name, and their deaths in each case have been verified by multiple sources,” said Dmitry Treshchanin, an editor at Mediazona who assisted in the inquiry. “The Meduza estimate allows us to see the ‘hidden’ deaths, deaths that the Russian government is obsessively and futilely attempting to conceal.”

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The difficulty of gathering data on the dead

The fog of battle obscures many things, including casualty figures.

“It’s extremely difficult to assemble all of the casualties from the army, Rosgvardia, Akhmat battalion, and various private military companies, of which Wagner is the largest, but not the only one,” Treshchanin told AP. “Casualties among inmates, first recruited by Wagner and now by the MoD, are a murky subject with a lot of room for manipulation.” Statistics may potentially produce superior results.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also made calculating how many males would have died in Russia from February 2022 more difficult. By indexing male death rates against female deaths, both studies adjusted for the lingering effects of COVID on mortality.

However, Sergei Scherbov, a researcher at Austria’s International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, warned that “differences in the number of deaths between males and females can vary significantly due to randomness alone.”

“I’m not saying there couldn’t be an excess of male deaths,” he continued, “but statistically speaking, this difference in deaths could be a result of chance.”

These figures do not include Russians who are missing but not officially declared dead, as well as Ukrainians fighting in forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics. Determining how many missing Russian servicemen are genuinely dead is incredibly difficult.

“That uncertainty is in the thousands,” said Scherbov, adding that “the results are plausible overall.”

An act of defiance

According to activists and independent journalists, reports of military losses have been suppressed in Russian media. Documenting the dead has become a form of disobedience, with individuals who do so subjected to persecution and criminal prosecution.

Meduza was classified a “foreign agent” by Russian authorities in April 2021, making it more difficult to obtain advertising revenue, and the Kremlin blacklisted Meduza as an unlawful “undesirable organisation” in January 2023. Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of the Ukraine war, Moscow declared independent news company Mediazona a “foreign agent” and shut down its website.

However, some analysts predict that suppressing data on casualties in the Ukraine war would become increasingly difficult as the war continues.

“However, concealing losses of this scale will only become more difficult. “Wounded soldiers are returning home and telling tales of life and death at the front, and those killed in action have friends and families,” Timothy Frye, a Columbia University professor of Post-Soviet foreign policy, wrote for Foreign Policy.

“As more people learn about the scale of the losses, support for the war will become more difficult to sustain,” he said.