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Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression has forced thousands of Ukrainians to take up arms to defend their country and freedom at the cost of their own lives. 

During a press conference on February 25, 2024, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy disclosed information on Ukrainian losses for the first time since February 2022. According to him, 31,000 Ukrainian defenders were killed in the two years of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Yurii Moroz, a soldier of the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine, died in the Donetsk region on April 16, 2023. On April 24, a farewell ceremony for Ukrainian defenders was held on Independence Square in Kyiv.
Рhoto: Serhii Nuzhnenko (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

“31 thousand Ukrainian soldiers died in this war. Not 300 thousand, not 150 thousand,  whatever Putin and his circle have been lying about. Each of these losses is significant for us,” the President of Ukraine said.

This number does not include the wounded and missing. Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused to make this information public.

“I won’t say how many were wounded because Russia would know how many people have left the battlefield. And I will not say how many people are missing: I will not “play around” these numbers because the last exchange showed that we may not be inaccurate here. We returned several people who were considered missing – and they returned alive,” the President of Ukraine commented.

Ukraine marks the Day of Remembrance of the Defenders of Ukraine on August 29. This day was established by a decree of the President of Ukraine in 2019. There are also plans to establish the National Military Memorial Cemetery, where defenders will be buried with honors. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed the corresponding law in May 2022, and in 2024, the place for the Cemetery was set in the Hatne community of Fastiv district, the Kyiv region.

Russian military losses in the war far outweigh those of Ukraine. As Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier, “Russia loses five soldiers for every dead Ukrainian defender.”

At the press conference, the President of Ukraine also mentioned the enemy’s overall losses. “The total losses – dead and wounded – in Russia are 180 thousand. I don’t know how many missing persons they have. I know that it is up to 500 thousand in total with the wounded.”