It has been nearly a month since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, deploying tens of thousands of troops from three sides in an offensive against its neighbor.
Although the Ukrainian army is much smaller, its forces have built up a fierce resistance that has managed to hold off the Russian advance in some parts of the country. A senior NATO intelligence official said on Monday that signs pointed to a stalemate in the Russian offensive, with Russian ground forces continuing to grind to a halt and Russian warplanes unable to achieve air superiority.
It is unclear exactly how many Russian troops have been killed in their campaign so far.
On March 2, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry estimated the number of dead Russian servicemen at 498. But that number has not been updated by officials since.
On Monday, a pro-Putin-Russian tabloid — and later deleted it — published a report with an updated toll of 9,861 killed by Russian forces in the war in Ukraine, citing Russia’s defense ministry.
The report of the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid originally read: “According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian armed forces lost 9,861 killed and 16153 wounded during the special operation in Ukraine.”
DailyExpertNews analyzed the website’s HTML code, which revealed that the article was published at 12:09 a.m. Moscow time on Monday.
Seconds after DailyExpertNews read the original article — at 9:56 pm Moscow time, according to the HTML code — the story was updated to remove all references to the death toll. That update to the outlet’s website came shortly after the article began to draw attention from social media posts referring to the death toll.
The tabloid’s original report matches estimates by the US Department of Defense of up to 10,000 Russian military deaths. Ukraine has the number even higher.
DailyExpertNews cannot independently verify any of these figures.
After the update, Komsomolskaya Pravda released a statement saying that “access to the admin interface was hacked” and that “a fake insert was created in a publication”.
They claimed that “incorrect information was immediately removed”. Analysis by DailyExpertNews found that the update came after 9 p.m.
The Kremlin dodged questions about the course of the war in Ukraine, which were submitted to the Defense Ministry on Tuesday. The ministry said it “does not have the authority” to release a tally of Russian military dead while the “military operation” is still underway.
Natasha Bertrand, Paul P. Murphy, Vasco Cotovio, and Nathan Hodge of DailyExpertNews contributed to this post.