At Ukrainian Policy, Russian expert Paul Globe noted a Russian newspaper claimed thousands of Russian soldiers perished in east Ukraine. The findings confirm Alec Luhn’s article at The Guardian from January.
On Monday, Delovaya zhizn reported about increased pay for Russian soldiers in 2015. Yet, in the same article, the paper stated Russia lost “no fewer than 2,000” soldiers in Ukraine with “3,200 serious casualties by February 1, 2015.” They wrote:
“The government of the Russian Federation has taken an important decision about the monetary compensation of military personnel who have taken part in military actions in the east of Ukraine.”
“For the families of those who have died in the course of military actions in the east of Ukraine, monetary compensation has been set at three million rubles [40,000 US dollars] and for those who have become invalids during the military actions at 1.5 million rubles [20,000 US dollars].”
“In addition,” the original version said, Moscow plans to pay contract soldiers a supplement of 1,800 rubles [25 US dollars] for each day of combat. As of February 1, 2015, Moscow had already paid monetary compensation “for more than 2,000 families of soldiers who had been killed and for 3,200 soldiers who were seriously wounded and recognized as invalids.”
In January, Luhn spoke with some of the family members who lost loved ones in Ukraine. Yelena Tumanova said her 20-year-old son died only 10 days after leaving. No one had any inkling his army unit was headed to Ukraine.
Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov worked on a major report about Russian soldiers in Ukraine before gunmen slaughtered him in late February. Nemtsov’s friends stepped up to finish the report in an effort to expose what they see as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lies about Ukraine. The report states, “At least 150 Russian military personnel were killed during a Ukrainian offensive in August 2014.” Then 70 more died in January and February near Debaltseve, which occurred five months after Russia and Ukraine agreed on a ceasefire agreement. The government rewarded the families $39,000 if they promised not to tell anyone. Nemtsov’s report also stated the Kremlin forced the soldiers “to officially resign from the military before being deployed to Ukraine” to provide another shield for Putin.
As Globe, a specialist on Eurasia who served as a special advisor on the Soviet Union to Secretary of State James Baker, says the Kremlin often removes anything from the media that contradicts President Vladimir Putin’s claim that there are no soldiers in Ukraine. After he invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, the Kremlin cracked down on all forms of media.
The West would not admit Russian soldiers existed in Ukraine even though numerous media outlets provided pictures and video of the men. The EU and U.S. finally admitted this year that soldiers are in the east. Secretary of State John Kerry even confessed that Russian propaganda worked on him.