The war in Ukraine goes on, and both sides continue to lose men at a horrible pace. Combined, the two militaries have likely lost more than 400,000 troops killed or wounded in the war so far. But it’s not all about killed or wounded troops: There are prisoners too.
The ferocity of the fighting and the deep hatred of the Ukrainians for the Russian war crimes against their soldiers and civilians aren’t good news for prisoners of war.
Military forces tend to reciprocate brutality, and news about an incident spreads like wildfire across the contact line. There have been numerous instances where troops from both sides chose not to take prisoners.
However, as opposed to the Russian forces, which have regularly displayed a disregard for taking prisoners, the Ukrainian military is normally trying to capture Russian troops if possible. Prisoners of war provide good intelligence on the plans and intentions but also on morale in units. And yet, the main reason behind that directive is to exchange Russian prisoners of war with Ukrainians.
“Everyone on the frontline should remember this,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his latest daily address to the Ukrainian people, “the more Russian prisoners of war we will take, the more of our people we will return.”
The latest prisoner exchange took place this week and freed more than 100 Ukrainian troops, more specifically, eight officers and 98 non-commissioned officers and enlisted troops.
“It is very important that there was no information about many of these 106 people at all – they were considered missing. But we found them. We brought them back home,” the Ukrainian president added in his daily operational update.
Overall, the Ukrainian government has managed to repatriate hundreds of troops, most of them hardened veterans from battles like Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and Bakhmut. Although the troops who are repatriated aren’t in the best possible condition after months of Russian captivity, they have good experience and can probably serve in training roles, if not operational ones.
The Ukrainian military has taken serious casualties throughout the war, and every soldier counts, especially those with experience.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, on day 456 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces continue to take significant casualties. The casualty rate has dropped in the last couple of days to approximately 400 troops killed or wounded. With the large-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive looming in the background, the rate is expected to rise again soon.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 205,720 Russian troops, destroyed 310 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 296 attack and transport helicopters, 3,796 tanks, 3,384 artillery pieces, 7,435 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 570 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 6,161 vehicles and fuel tanks, 328 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,910 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 446 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,015 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy, Cybersecurity, and Intelligence at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.