45,000 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine, identifies media investigation

Maria Andreeva, whose husband was mobilised in October 2022 to join the Russian armed forces involved in a military campaign in Ukraine, lays flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall along with other members of Russian women's movement "Way Home" demanding the return from the frontline of their husbands, sons and brothers, in Moscow, Russia, January 27, 2024Reuters

The BBC Russian Service and news outlet Mediazona have confirmed the identity of around 45,000 Russian soldiers who died in Ukraine since the invasion began in February 2022.

The issue of military casualties is extremely sensitive in both countries. Russia has banned criticism of the conflict and no official figures have been released since 2022.

"The BBC, together with Mediazona... and a team of volunteers managed to establish the names of 45,123 Russian militaries who died in the war in Ukraine since February 2022," the report said.

It only included the names of soldiers publicly identified in open-source data -- mainly obituaries -- and warned the real toll may be twice as high.

A Ukrainian serviceman of the 65th Mechanised Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces inspects remains of the body of a Russian soldier near the front line village of Robotyne, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine February 21, 2024

"Two-thirds of the dead we have identified had no links to the army prior to the invasion: volunteers, mobilised, prisoners and private company recruits," the BBC's Russian language service said.

After over a year of grinding trench warfare that failed to yield territorial gains for either Moscow or Kyiv, the Kremlin is ramping up deployments to the front.

President Vladimir Putin rarely acknowledges setbacks on the battlefield, framing the almost two-year war as a battle for Russia's survival in a bid to rally patriotism.

Ukraine also keeps its military losses and casualties secret, although analysts believe they number in the tens of thousands after two years of fighting.