Feb 25, 2024 - World

Zelensky: 31,000 Ukrainian troops killed since start of Russia's invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a microphone while speaking

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a forum in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 25. Photo: Andrew Kravchenko/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that 31,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed since Russia began its invasion.

The big picture: It's the first time Zelensky has publicly confirmed the number of Ukrainian military deaths since Russia started its full-scale invasion two years ago.

What he's saying: "31,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed in this war, not 300,000, not 150,000, not whatever [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his deceitful circle have been lying about," Zelensky said Sunday in Kyiv.

  • "But nevertheless, each of these losses is a great sacrifice for us," he said.

Zelensky would not disclose the number of Ukrainian military members who have so far been wounded.

  • "But I cannot say how many wounded we have, because Russia will know how many people have left the battlefield. I just cannot say," he said.

Zelensky's figures stand in stark contrast to estimates from U.S. officials in August 2023.

  • At that time, the U.S. estimated a death toll of close to 70,000 Ukrainian troops, per the New York Times.
  • The estimates also included between 100,000 and 120,000 Ukrainian servicemembers being wounded.

Zoom out: Russia captured the Ukraine villages of Avdiivka earlier this month, something which both the White House and Zelensky tied to a shortage of ammunition.

  • Zelensky did not blame the U.S. for the shortage, though the White House cited "congressional inaction" as why Russia saw its "first notable gains in months" for the war.
  • Billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine currently hang in the balance as Republicans demand funding for the U.S.-Mexico border be included with, or passed before, any additional foreign aid.

Worth noting: Deepening the problem is the approaching partial government shutdown. Congress has until March 1 to pass a budget or stopgap spending bill separately from any other proposals.

  • If a bill isn't passed by March 8, a full government shutdown will go into effect.

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