Up to 40,000 Russian casualties in Ukraine, senior Nato official estimates

Ukraine says 15,600 Russian troops killed so far

<p>The coffin of Andrei Paliy, the deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet, is carried in Sevastopol, Crimea, on 23 March 2022</p>

The coffin of Andrei Paliy, the deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet, is carried in Sevastopol, Crimea, on 23 March 2022

Russia has suffered as many as 40,000 casualties in a month of fighting in Ukraine, a senior Nato military officer has claimed.

The estimate includes the number of Russian military personnel thought to have been injured or killed as well as those missing or taken prisoner since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

Speaking from Brussels, the unnamed Nato official said the figure was based on information provided by Kyiv, hints given by Russia and data acquired through open-source intelligence.

The supposed number of casualties was calculated by assuming there are roughly three wounded soldiers for every soldier killed, they added.

This puts the Russia death toll broadly in line with the 15,600 fatalities Ukraine says the Kremlin has suffered.

If Kyiv’s figure is accurate, more Russians soldiers have died in less than four weeks in Ukraine than the number of Russian troops who were killed during the decade-long Soviet-Afghan war.

On 2 March, Moscow said 498 of its soldiers had died in the war. Earlier this week, pro-Kremlin newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda took down an online article revealing almost 10,000 troops had died in the war with over 16,000 injured.

A map of Russian advances into Ukraine as of 22 March

A significant number of top-ranking Russian officials are also alleged to have been killed during the conflict. An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that six Russian generals and dozens of colonels had lost their lives.

"For me what is important is the reported heavy casualties at colonel and above, the backbone of the Russian army, not just generals,” one senior diplomat in Moscow told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Konrad Muzyka, a defence analyst, said it would be a “big deal” if even two generals had been killed.

"We’re not only talking about generals, we’re also talking about colonels who are of course also really high in the organisation,” he added.

With Mr Putin’s war in Ukraine set to enter its fifth week, Ukraine has been urging western countries to supply it with more weapons. Sweden has agreed to send Kyiv another 5,000 anti-tank missiles, while British prime minister Boris Johnson has promised to urge its allies to substantially  increase their contributions of military equipment.

On Wednesday, at least one person was killed and two others were injured after a shell struck a car park in Kyiv, according to its mayor.

Ukrainian authorities believe 121 children are among the hundreds of civilians killed by Russia so far. It also said that roughly 9 million people have now had to flee their homes to escape the conflict.

More than 3.5 million of this total have now crossed the border into neighbouring countries, according to the UN.

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