The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) revealed this week that it believes that the Russian military has suffered up to 40,000 casualties during its invasion of Ukraine, which began one month ago.
The figure — which includes troops that have been killed, wounded, taken prisoner, or are missing in action — was calculated using figures provided by Ukraine, information obtained from Russia, and intelligence from open sources.
The senior NATO official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the organization believes that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, and that the 30,000 to 40,000 estimated casualties is “based on the assumption that for every soldier killed, three are wounded,” The Washington Post reported. “Death tolls have been hard for independent observers to verify during the conflict, with the fog of war making solid information difficult to obtain and the ferocity of the conflict impeding efforts to count the dead. Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 1,300 members of the Ukrainian forces have been killed, but The Washington Post has been unable to verify that figure. Russia has not updated its official figure of 498 dead and 1,597 wounded since announcing it one week into the invasion.”
A senior Russian official suggested this week that Russia would be willing to use nuclear weapons in the conflict if the nation felt threatened.
The Associated Press reported:
“The Russian Federation is capable of physically destroying any aggressor or any aggressor group within minutes at any distance,” Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the state aerospace corporation, Roscosmos, said in televised remarks. He noted that Moscow’s nuclear stockpiles include tactical nuclear weapons, designed for use on battlefields, along with far more powerful nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. Roscosmos oversees missile-building facilities.
U.S. officials long have warned that Russia’s military doctrine envisages an “escalate to deescalate” option of using battlefield nuclear weapons to force the enemy to back down in a situation when Russian forces face imminent defeat. Moscow has denied having such plans. Rogozin is known for his bluster, and he did not make clear what actions by the West would be seen as meddling, but his comments almost certainly reflect thinking inside the Kremlin.
The U.S. government announced on Wednesday that the Russian military has committed war crimes in Ukraine because of their “deliberate targeting of civilians.”
“We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities,” the State Department said in a press release. “Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded. Many of the sites Russia’s forces have hit have been clearly identifiable as in-use by civilians. This includes the Mariupol maternity hospital, as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressly noted in a March 11 report. It also includes a strike that hit a Mariupol theater, clearly marked with the word ‘дети’ — Russian for ‘children’ — in huge letters visible from the sky.”