Russian Losses over Time

Russian deaths, according the BBC/Mediazona accounts, were 6,902 from 24 February through 21 September 2022. Russia itself reported on 21 September that there were 5,937 killed. Now, we suspect the Russian reports understate their losses and by the nature of the data collected, the Mediazona reports also certainly understate Russian losses. That their figures are close to each other is an interesting coincidence. It does make one wonder if the Mediazona weekly totals can be used to measure the intensity of combat and degree of losses over time.

Let us toy with that idea for a moment. On 9 November, General Milley stated that Russian casualties were  “…well over 100,000…”. Now “well over 100,000” could be 199,999, but I have assumed it meant in the low end of “well over 100,000.” He also noted at the time that “Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side.” See: 100,000 Russian troops killed or injured in Ukraine, US says – ABC News (go.com).  Currently, as of 17 March, the Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council is arguing that total Ukrainian losses are less than 100,000 killed and wounded.

Now, as of late March, the U.S. DOD is apparently claiming that Russian losses are around 220,000 casualties. Does this mean that they think Russians losses have doubled since 9 November?

Let is compare that to the Mediazona death data. Up to 21 September, Russian deaths are reported at 6,902. Going up to 9 November pushes the count of deaths up to 8,826. Reported Russian deaths by Mediazona for the period from 10 November through 8 March is 4,174. Therefore, the Mediazona count of deaths over time is more than twice as much up through the more than 8 1/2-month period up to 9 November than for the four-month period from 10 November to 8 March. Yet the U.S. estimate of Russian casualties appears to double their losses over this four-month period.

So….

1. Either the U.S. DOD back on 9 November meant that “well over 100,000” meant around 150,000 or more (and so to were Ukrainian losses), or….

2. The U.S. DOD actually believes that the intensity of combat and Russia losses has more than doubled during the last four months, or…

3. They have kind of garbled this up. In light of some of their last estimates, this cannot be ruled out.

By the way, U.S. DOD estimates are talking total casualties (which is killed, wounded and possibly missing). They don’t state this, but only about 20% -25% of those are killed (assuming a 4-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio or a WWII-like 3-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio).


P.S. The following blog posts are related to this discussion:

BBC/Mediazona Figures Over Time | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Casualty Estimates for the Russo-Ukrainian War | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Wounded-To-Killed Ratios | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Wounded-to-killed ratios in Ukraine in 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)



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.

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