7,000 Unclaimed Dead Russian Soldiers Left in Morgues, Ukraine Says

  • Ukraine says up to 7,000 unclaimed corpses of Russian soldiers in its morgues.
  • The Kremlin has refused to acknowledge the high death toll of its soldiers.
  • Many families of Russian soldiers are being left in the dark about the fate of their loved ones.

Ukrainian officials say there are thousands of unclaimed corpses of Russian soldiers in its morgues, as the Kremlin refuses to acknowledge the high death toll.

More than 7,000 dead Russian soldiers are being stored in morgues and refrigerated rail cars across Ukraine, Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, previously told The Washington Post.

“They said, ‘We don’t believe in such quantities. We don’t have this number. We’re not ready to accept them,'” Arestovych told the paper about the reaction of the Russian authorities.

More than 1,500 dead Russian soldiers are held in morgues in Dnipro, Ukraine, its deputy major Mykhailo Lysenko said on the TV channel Current Time on April 13.

According to reports, Russia has also transported thousands of dead soldiers to Belarus from Ukraine to disguise the number of soldiers killed.

NATO estimates that Russia has lost up to 15,000 troops during the war, while Ukraine claims to have killed nearly 20,000.

By comparison, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CNN this week that Ukraine has lost between 2,500 and 3,000 troops since the war began.

Russia, meanwhile, has put its official death toll at 1,351, a figure that was last updated on March 25.

Without going into specifics, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov acknowledged the heavy casualties for the first time last week, commenting: “We have significant losses of troops. And it’s a huge tragedy for us.”

The legs of a dead Russian soldier

The dead body of a Russian soldier lying on the road on March 5, 2022 in Sytniaky, Ukraine.

Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images

Zelenskyy has criticized Russia’s refusal to repatriate its dead soldiers, claiming that Russia is giving them less respect than is typically given to dead pets.

“I’m saying this to you as the president of a country fighting with Russian soldiers. It’s a war, but they are not animals.” Zelenskyy said in an online interview with Russian journalists in March, according to TheGuardian.

The claim that Russian officials refuse to take their soldiers’ corpses has been echoed by the deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, who is responsible for working with Moscow to return the remains.

She told The Guardian that they have refused to acknowledge the scale of losses or accept the bodies in several conversations with Russian officials.

“We are counting them all. We have the remains in fridges. We say to them, take them, they are in body bags, we can give them to the Red Cross, send them to the Belarusian border, and wherever you want, we ‘ll give you these bodies,” Vereshchuk said the paper.

A Ukrainian serviceman takes a photo of a dead Russian soldier after Ukrainian forces overran a Russian position outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 31, 2022.

A Ukrainian serviceman takes a photo of a dead Russian soldier after Ukrainian forces overran a Russian position outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 31, 2022.

Vadim Ghirda/AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in 2015 which said that all military deaths would be classified as state secrets.

That, coupled with a controversial new law that imposes a 15-year jail term for intentionally spreading “fake” news about the military, has made it difficult for NGOs and officials to speak openly about the situation in Ukraine.

Due to the Kremlin’s secrecy, many families of Russian soldiers are unaware of the fate of their loved ones.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has set up a Telegram channel where Russians can look through photos of dead soldiers to try and identify relatives, The Post said.

Ukraine is also using a US company’s facial recognition software to identify dead soldiers, per a Washington Post report.

Some desperate family members are reaching out to organizations such as the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee, which advocates for Russian soldiers’ rights, to locate missing soldiers, according to TheGuardian.

“We are getting hundreds and hundreds of calls. It’s just a sea of ​​tears,” its head Svetlana Golub told the paper.

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