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Russia confirms casualties in Ukraine ahead of the next round of talks

People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday.
Serhii Nuzhnenko
People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday.

For the first time, the Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed a substantial number of casualties in Ukraine, announcing that 498 Russian troops have died and 1,597 more have been injured.

The losses shed new light on what had been up until now tightly controlled messaging regarding what the Kremlin insists is a limited "special military operation."

Until now, Russia's military reports focused on the tallies of destroyed military outposts, weapons and equipment as the Russian government cracks down on the portrayal of its actions in Ukraine as a war or invasion. Russian media outlets currently face fines or blockage for using words like "war" or "invasion," and thousands of anti-war protesters have been detained since the conflict began.

Delegations from Ukraine and Russia are preparing to begin a second round of talks. The latest reports suggest the talks will restart Thursday morning near the Belarus-Poland border. The first round of negotiations ended without a breakthrough on Monday.

In an interview cited by Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: "Our negotiators are prepared for a second round of discussions about [security] guarantees with the Ukrainian representatives."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had previously called for security guarantees from NATO. On Wednesday, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine and to demand that it end the war.

In Wednesday's release on casualties, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that among Ukrainian troops, 2,870 have been killed, around 3,700 injured and 572 captured. Konashenkov also called media reports of "countless" losses among Russian troops "deliberate disinformation."

Western and Ukrainian estimates have far exceeded the newly released Russian tallies, and any numbers remain unverified.

Russia's Defense Ministry had previously acknowledged that some soldiers had died but did not offer details. Some regional leaders had publicly shared news of several soldiers killed in the "special operation."

By U.S. estimates Wednesday, Russia has deployed 82% of its forces that were positioned outside Ukraine, up from an estimated 80% on Tuesday.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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