It’s still unclear how many Russians have died seven days into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On March 2, the Ukrainian authorities announced that Russia has suffered “indicative” casualties of 5,840 persons. Russia only recognized it had suffered any losses four days after the war began and did not provide any figures. Several videos and images from the battlefield, however, indicate that the invading forces have suffered significant casualties. Another piece of data uncovered by the Kyiv Independent gives more information on Russia’s 35th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade’s fate in the Ukraine war.
In late February, dozens of Russian military personnel were killed in fighting near Chernihiv as a consequence of Ukrainian resistance. Following that, scores of dead Russian bodies were surreptitiously sent home, with the Russian leadership never acknowledging their deaths. The Kyiv Independent got a WhatsApp audio message made by a woman in Aleysk, Russia’s Altai region, around 3,500 kilometers east of Kyiv, the 35th Brigade’s home base. An anonymous woman weeps in the audio message, informing a WhatsApp group member that the local “tank battalion” was “completely decimated in Ukraine.”
She specifically states that “just 18 out of 150 guys escaped,” implying that one of the brigade’s units was annihilated by Ukrainian troops. Furthermore, the speaker claims that on the day of the recorded audio message, the first batch of 45 coffins, consisting largely of young people from the town and surrounding villages, were on their way to Aleysk. Some of the victims, according to the grieving woman, were her neighbors and acquaintances. She specifically names Evgeniy Zhilin, a military service member. This name appears in a leaked list of 120,000 Russian soldiers purportedly participated in the invasion of Ukraine, which was issued by Ukraine’s Center for Defense Strategies on March 1. Evgeniy Zhilin’s VK social media account has likewise been deactivated.
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