As the war reaches its second full month, the Kremlin is stepping up its efforts to “limit the circle” of those who understand the full scale of Russian losses. Troop losses in “special operations” – of which the invasion of Ukraine is one, according to Putin – have already been classified as state secrets since 2015.
Now, the Kremlin is considering making it more difficult for the families of killed Russian soldiers to apply for compensation payments.
The Russian Defence Ministry has proposed that relatives should have to apply to the military rather than to civilian authorities for these payments.
According to Reuters, it was open about this move being designed to “limit the circle of people” with information on Russian troops killed in Ukraine.
It is not yet known when the proposal will be considered by Government.
The Russian death toll has been kept under wraps since the beginning of the war.
Moscow last revealed its losses almost one month ago, on March 25, by which time it claimed 1,351 troops had been killed.
Ukrainian figures for Russian losses are much higher.
Latest figures on April 20, published in the Kyiv Independent, suggest more than 20,000 Russian troops have died in Ukraine since the invasion was launched.
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Russian pundits have been involved in broadcasts sent out to millions of homes calling not only for Ukraine to be “de-Nazified” but “de-Ukrainianised”.
One Orthodox commentator translated by Francis Scarr of the BBC told viewers of the state-owned Channel One Russia the “special operation” was, in fact, a “holy war” being waged against Ukrainian “Satanists” and “pagans”.
Yesterday, on April 19, writer Nikolai Starikov told the same channel the Russian people wanted the war against Ukraine to be even tougher, despite Putin’s claim the aim of the “special operation” was to (is to) protect people who have been subjected to genocide.
Quoted again by Mr Scarr, he said: “Out citizens are astonished by our endless patience and peacefulness.”
In the strategically important southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which has come under particularly heavy fire, Russian forces this week ordered their opponents to surrender and retreat without their arms – and not for the first time.
Their request was turned down but the city has still yet to fall into Russian hands, despite military analysis last week warning those fighting to keep hold of the city could fail “within hours”.