Ukrainian and Western media outlets seem to be diminishing the seriousness of Kiev’s situation, trying to claim that there are few casualties. Writes Lucas Leiroz
Information warfare remains active in Ukraine. There is strong controversy over the actual data of the conflict, with each side claiming a different number of deaths. Ukrainian and Western media outlets seem to be diminishing the seriousness of Kiev’s situation, trying to claim that there are few casualties. The objective appears to be to improve troops’ morale and show the world that the supposed “Ukrainian resistance” is “winning the war” against the “Russian invaders”. However, there does not seem to be any credibility in this type of narrative.
One of the most curious discussions about the Russian special military operation is the number of Ukrainian casualties. On Friday, April 15, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that Kiev had so far lost around 2,500 to 3,000 soldiers in combat. The number seems really small under the circumstances of the conflict, considering the combat scenes witnessed since February and the Russian victory in many confrontation situations, and this raises a number of questions as to why Kiev and its allies want to make it look like they have few casualties.
Since March, the mainstream media has changed its analysis perspective on the Ukrainian case, betting less and less on humanitarian speeches and endorsing a discourse that improves the morale of Kiev’s troops. Western media agencies confirm Zelensky’s data and point out that the supposed low number of deaths is due to the strength of the “Ukrainian resistance”, which would be hindering Russian plans and obtaining significant victories in the fighting situations.
Although unconvincing on a military level, this narrative praises Zelensky’s image, making him look like a “brave leader” and “military genius”, and the Ukrainian troops, who are seen as “strong and resilient”. This also garners international support, encourages the interest of mercenaries, and arouses the attention of oligarchs to financially support the confrontation, making them believe in a possible Ukrainian victory, which is virtually questionable.
However, what is most surprising about this issue is that the Ukrainian lies seem really blatant, considering that according to Moscow the number of Kiev agents killed by the Russian troops is much higher, exceeding 23,000 soldiers. This high level of discrepancy between the official data reveals that one side is necessarily very wrong in its analysis, possibly distorting data for propaganda purposes – and considering the current context this side seems to be the Ukrainian one, which intends to improve its morale in the face of an obvious defeat.
Russian Ministry of Defence spokesman Igor Konashenkov recently commented on the case revealing Moscow’s data about the conflict: “The Russian Ministry of Defence has reliable figures on the true losses suffered by the Ukrainian Army, the National Guard and foreign mercenaries, which Zelensky is afraid to provide to the people of Ukraine. Today, its irretrievable losses amount to 23,367 people (…) In total, since the start of the special military operation, 134 Ukrainian aircraft, 460 drones, 246 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2,269 tanks and other armoured vehicles, 252 multiple launch rocket systems, 987 pieces of field artillery and mortars, as well as 2,158 special military vehicles have been destroyed”.
In addition, in a recent interview with CNN, Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces would be willing to fight the Russians for the next “ten years”. According to him, Ukraine is determined to retake the entire length of its territory, which, in his opinion, includes the sovereign republics of the Donbass and Russian Crimea. He made it clear that Ukraine chose the path of confrontation and that it will not retreat before achieving its objectives using military force.
However, in his speech, he recognizes his country’s inability to carry out the conflict without Western help, which is why he urges his allies to send more and more weapons as soon as possible: “We need the equipment today or tomorrow, not within two or three months (…) We want to liberate our country, to take back what belongs to us. We may be fighting with the Russian Federation for 10 years to take back what is ours. We may choose this path”.
To carry out his war plans, Zelensky must completely renounce any military realism. His tactic seems to be to garner more and more international support and funding to delay the defeat of the Maidan Junta as long as possible – not by chance he stated that he is willing to fight for ten years. To do this, he lies about the data of the conflict, making his financiers believe that it is profitable to invest in his possible victory.
However, it is clear for most experts on military issues that it is incredible for Ukraine to win a confrontation with Russia. Although Western countries send money, weapons, equipment and mercenaries, Russian military superiority remains undisputed. These resources only serve to prolong the conflict and delay the inevitable outcome of the success of the special military operation, and Moscow does not seem to be in a “rush” to declare victory.
The part that suffers the most from all this is the Ukrainian civil population, which does not have its “morale improved”, but, on the contrary, has its suffering prolonged by his war plans.
Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.