U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that up to 4,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since President Vladimir Putin launched Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 – more than the number of Americans killed during the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee that the best estimate is between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian fatalities. He gave the estimate low confidence, however, citing “some intelligence sources, but also open source” information.
During the same hearing, Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, said that the conflict’s human toll is “considerable, and only increasing” for both Russia and Ukraine.
“Thus far, the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have probably suffered thousands of casualties along with numerous civilian deaths,” Haines said. “And of course, well more than a million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded.”
The numbers are lower than estimates from Ukraine, which claims over 11,000 Russian troops were killed during the first 10 days of Russia’s invasion, according to Reuters.
In comparison, an estimated 2,461 Americans were killed during the entire two decades of war in Afghanistan, according to numbers from the Pentagon.
The estimate highlights how costly the invasion has been for Russia, which has a military eight times the size of Ukraine’s.
As reported by The New York Times, “To be sure, most military experts say that Russia will eventually subdue Ukraine’s army. Russia’s military, at 900,000 active duty troops and two million reservists, is eight times the size of Ukraine’s. Russia has advanced fighter planes, a formidable navy and marines capable of multiple amphibious landings, as they proved early in the invasion when they launched from the Black Sea and headed toward the city of Mariupol.”
As Russia has struggled during its invasion, it has reportedly been using illegal weapons on civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, a Russian missile carrying a cluster munition struck a Ukrainian hospital on Feb. 24, 2022.
“The attack killed four civilians and injured another 10, six of them healthcare workers, and damaged the hospital, an ambulance, and civilian vehicles,” Human Rights Watch reported.
“This callous attack has killed and injured civilians, and damaged a hospital,” said Steve Goose, arms director of Human Rights Watch. “Russian forces should stop using cluster munitions and end unlawful attacks with weapons that indiscriminately kill and maim.”