Death toll in Ukraine increasing due to Russian ‘meat grinder’ strategy

The military death toll in Ukraine has surpassed 50,000, according to a Wednesday BBC report.

Since the Russian invasion of the country in February 2022, tens of thousands of soldiers have been killed in what has been coined a ‘meat grinder strategy.’ The term refers to the way in which scores of Russian soldiers are deployed continuously in waves in order to wear down the Ukrainian army.

As a result, the Ukrainian death toll in the second year of fighting has increased by 25% from the first year, the BBC noted.

Ukrainian death toll in 2023 higher than 2022

The figures have been acquired by independent media groups, BBC Russia, and volunteers who have accessed burial sites and open-source intelligence, such as social media, to collate information.

Russian graveyards have also proliferated significantly, according to aerial images.

Service members with the Freedom of Russia Legion under the Ukrainian Army prepare to fire a mortar at a Russian military position, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 21, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/Alex Babenko)

The independent media group Mediazona reported 27,300 deaths on the Russian side in 2023 alone, according to the BBC.

Moscow denied the findings, saying that this was not an official report. However, the death toll of Russian soldiers is believed to be higher than officially stated.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was the “exclusive prerogative of the Ministry of Defence” to release information regarding casualties due to stringent state secrets laws. 

The BBC estimates state that 40% or more of Russian military fatalities were unaffiliated with the military before the invasion. This is likely because many of the veteran soldiers were killed or injured at the start of the war and replaced by less experienced fighters.

The BBC analysis does not include the militia fatalities in Donetsk and Lugansk in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine. With these figures included, the Russian death toll would be even greater. 

Two years on

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 was the largest attack on a European country since the Second World War. Putin’s stated aim was to denazify and demilitarise Ukraine, a claim that has been refuted by critics of the war.

Russian troops have allegedly committed war crimes in Ukraine, including the Bucha massacres, shortly after the war started on Feb 24, 2022.

Ukraine’s top prosecutor said that Russian crimes show a pattern of genocidal behavior that should be tried at the International Criminal Court.

Ukraine alleges at least 125,000 war crimes by Russian forces.