Russia has lost some of its most specialized and costly troops in its invasion of Ukraine, according to a BBC investigation.
Of the 1,083 Russian fighters identified by the BBC ‘s Russian-language operation, around a fifth 217 were officers ranking from junior lieutenant to general, the network said.
The BBC said that among those troops were some of Russia’s most expensive and difficult to replace.
The higher-ranking losses include 10 colonels, 20 lieutenant colonels, 31 majors and 155 junior officers, the BBC reported. To illustrate the cost to Russia, it said:
An infantry lieutenant costs $10,000 to train, over a five-year period.Other officers can cost up to $60,000 each to train.A top fighter pilot can cost up to $14 million to train over a period of 14 years.
Figures like these suggest that even Russia’s best troops are being killed in Ukraine, not just low-ranking soldiers who are easier to muster.
The BBC can track only a minority of troops killed in Russia. The network previously reported that Russia is suppressing news of casualties in the country, and defense officials give only sporadic updates. Western intelligence sources have said the true loses are much higher.
Members of elite units have also been killed, the BBC investigation found: 15 men from the special forces of the GRU intelligence agency and 10 special-forces troops of Rosgvardia, the Russian national guard.
It also noted that three of those killed had earned maroon berets marking them out as Russia’s most elite troops.
The BBC said that officers and elite fighters may be over-represented in its sample because their elevated status means their bodies are retrieved more urgently and their lives celebrated more widely.
As of early April, 18 commanders and generals have been reported killed in action, as Insider’s Alia Shoaib reported. The Kremlin has only officially confirmed the death of Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, in what was considered a major blow to troop morale.