The Ukrainian casualty claims are inflated – part 1

Just to state the obvious, the Ukrainian Army claims of Russian casualties are inflated. Still, I find people on twitter who are repeating the Ukrainian claims like they are fact, including people with significant followings (100K+). They are even doing some estimates of Russian dead per day, based upon this questionable data. They should know better.

Let us look for a moment at the Ukrainian Army claims as of early 3 June of 30,950 Russian soldiers killed. Now, the wounded-to-killed ratio for operations in this war looks to be around 4-to-1. This is based on the reporting of the Donets Peoples Republic, which oddly enough, has been consistently and steadily reporting their losses. Also see: Wounded-To-Killed Ratios | Mystics & Statistics ( and Chapter 15 of my book War by Numbers.

So 30,950 x 5 = 154,750 casualties (not counting captured and missing-in-action). This is out of a Russian force in Ukraine estimated to be 150,000 to 190,000. Something does not match up here.

The Russians are advancing, so they are either 1) advancing against a Ukrainian army of 200,000+ with the few remaining tens of thousands of troops they have, or 2) They have deployed over 100,000 brand new replacements (for which there is no evidence) who are advancing against this motivated and experienced Ukrainian army, or 3) the Ukrainian estimates are high. The latter seems the most logical explanation.

It does appear that the Ukrainian claims are off by a factor of 2 to 4. So, maybe 7,738 to 15,475 killed if we divide the Ukrainian estimates by 4 or 2. The NYT claimed that as of 19 April U.S. intelligence estimates were between 7,000 to 10,000 Russians killed. This seems like a more reasonable estimate.

The same NYT report on U.S. intelligence estimates were that Ukrainians had suffered 5,500 to 11,000 killed as of 19 April.

This entry was posted in Casualty estimation, Eastern Europe, Russia by Christopher A. Lawrence. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience. Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation. His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) and The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019) Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

15 thoughts on “The Ukrainian casualty claims are inflated – part 1

  1. Even if this is “just” 10000 KIA, and this implies 40000 wounded, this is still about 1/4 of the initial force of 200,000. The losses would be concentrated in the fighting elements, which is about half (something of an assumption here based off of WW2 force structures) of the totals. Thats about 50% of your combat force attrited away, counter balanced by wounded returns.

    Thats a shocking level of losses.

    Mad Dog

      • Like you said, 30K KIA —> 120K wounded means there isnt a Russian army in Ukraine. I have my doubts the Russians could be feeding enough replacements into the area to compensate, but I have no way of proving that.

        Alternatively, if AWOL Russians are counted as dead, then maybe we are closer to 30K than 10K.

        Mad Dog

        • This is not correct, as russia constantly replaces the Invasion army count-losses.This didnt happened on one day…. its day 193! I dont see any reason to have doubts that russia could not replace it as the russian military capacity is a lot higher than the “invasion army”.

          Minimum indicated by visually confirmed equipment losses (Oryx) is already 21.800.

          However if we take the claimed losses in equip serious than russia has already but “only” lost for example:
          16,38% Tanks
          14,97% Armored Vehicles
          13,29% Helicopters

          So even if that is 100% true, then they still have “enough” of it to replace if the … they could go on with this for some 2-3 more years – including new production in that time – if they would go “all in” until nothing is left to defend their homeland.

          Russia moved all that invasion army into ukraine within the first weeks… what makes you think they could not replace losses in 6 monthes…. i dont get it.

          • I think the question is how much higher their losses going to be until they realise that they cant win, but only loose troops and equipment… on and on and on, not gaining any territory.

            By doing so, russia lose military power. Day by day. They gettin weaker and weaker.

            I wonder when they overcome their desire in beeing victorious to realise that they’ve ruined themselves!

        • Also they have withdrawn large proportion of their vessels and aircrafts.

          Keep in mind that 1 hour of helicopter air-time times takes dozens of hours of maintenance, and that by value any loss in air-craft (as so in vessels) is bitter and hard to replace under sanctionised economy that heavily depends on western electronics.

          So despite having technical “air-superiority” and “sea-superiority” by numbers they cannot take high use of it, as the defense is well equiped with high-tech anti-air/ship-weaponry with high range gear like HIMARS and even down to the infantry-level at close range with the specified stuff, all breaks down to the land-based army.

          While russia technically has a lot of higher capacity, the “invasion army” force itself is quite low in number compared to the UA-forces in total plus the western mlitary-aid.

          They underestimated whats neccessary from the beginning, no matter that they have the counts at home, they simply cannot bring it all-in… otherwise they risk losing simply everything.

          By time passing and western sends in more and more military aid… they simply lost it tactically already.

          If they started it double in numbers… maybe they had succeeded alrady monthes ago, but now how it turns out “its a desaster”.

      • Regarding the troop losses, please also consider that the claimed losses are total and that this does not reflect “active russian military”. There’re “others” fighting for the russians. Wagner, LPR, DPR, and so on…

        A better perspective on the losses of russian active personal gives the “Minimum indicated by Russian admitted officer deaths”. Up to know it’s 1067 officers prooved to be dead indicating that at least 9300 russian active military personal must have been killed so far. A realistic value definetly lays higher and a better indicator for a “minimum” is the assumption from the visually proven equipement losses which indicate 28300 so far.

        Also consider that not all of the wounded are technically are out of service, surely a proportion – the heavily wouded – even dies later, but another proportion is the lightly wounded only that are quickly back at service, dont even leave the front line.

        Lets say russia had to replace 96,5k of their own men in 193 days (what consider high estimate)… thats still only 500 a day.

        Its not that much of troop movement… Even if they replace 1000 a day that is not much to organise. some 30 bus a day isnt a thing, theres land-routes into it!

  2. One further thought – what do we know about the Russian replacement system in terms of volume ?

    Mad Dog

  3. Pingback: The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 149 (ground actions) | Mystics & Statistics

  4. Pingback: Economist Article on Russian Casualty Estimates | Mystics & Statistics

  5. Pingback: The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 166 (ground actions) | Mystics & Statistics

  6. Well when 1:4 (or 1:5) is more realistic but approximately 1 of those 5 or 6 wounded dies in the end, then 1:3 isnt that unrealistic at all 🙂

    Lets say the russians had not lost 50k plus 150k wounded (200k out of service) like the UA claims, but had only lost 35k plus 140k (or 157,5k) wounded then it’s still close the same with 175k-192,5k out of service and if 1 of 5 or 6 of those wounded dies in the end, then its 45k-50k to 140k-160k what is pretty close to 1:3 in retrospective.

    Given the fact that the UA has highly lethal armaments and the protection layer of russian soldiers is low due to low cut finances a low ratio is realistic. Ive seen videos that clearly show russians wearing 20dollar-“Wish” plastic-helmets for meant for “softair-sports” and their vests are basically “aluminium” plates that dont holt a bullet or granade-shrapnels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *