Ukraine war: Russian state media reports 498 soldiers killed, denies deploying conscripts to Ukraine
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Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, local time. World leaders and diplomats widely condemned the attack and promised severe sanctions in response.
Russia first acknowledged the deaths of soldiers on Sunday after Ukraine continued to put the death toll in the thousands, although no one has been able to independently verify Ukraine’s claims. The British Ministry of Defense had reported 450 Russian losses on Friday – the second day of the conflict.
The first figures provided by Russian state media claimed that about 498 soldiers had died by the end of the first week.
RIA quoted a representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov, who continued to refer to the invasion as a “special military operation.”
“All possible assistance is being provided to the families of the victims,” Konashenkov said.
But he also insisted that no military recruits or cadets were deployed as part of the invasion.
“The information published by many Western and individual media outlets about the ‘countless’ losses of the Russian group is deliberate misinformation,” Konashenov said.
His rare admission reveals that Russia has struggled to control the information war at home, with independent reporting – he says, “individual Russian media” – louder than Putin is happy to hear.
Much of the analysis of Russia’s mistake in its invasion, which Putin seemed to believe would end in just three days, focused on the relatively untrained conscripts who make up a large part of the military.
Estimates regarding the number of conscripts in the Russian army range from 50% according to the Warsaw Institute to 70% according to the Washington Post.
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