Kyiv identifies 37,000 people missing since start of Russian invasion

Ukraine announced on Tuesday that it had identified nearly 37,000 civilians and soldiers missing since the start of the Russian invasion, a figure that is incomplete due in particular to Moscow’s occupation of nearly 20 per cent of the country’s territory.

“Almost 37,000 people are considered missing: children, civilians and servicemen. These figures could be much higher,” Ukrainian human rights commissioner Dmytro Loubinets said on Facebook on Tuesday. "Ukraine is working to find and bring its citizens home."

Since the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022, tens of thousands of people, both civilians and soldiers, have been killed, but there is no reliable overall figure. The procedures for identifying the dead and missing can take months.

"Ukraine is working to find and bring its citizens home"

President Volodymyr Zelensky said at the end of February that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in two years of war, one of the few cases in which Ukraine has given an official account of its military losses.

The Russian army has only communicated its military losses on very rare occasions, and these figures are considered to be greatly minimised. 


The number of civilian casualties is also unknown, as no reliable information is available on the territories occupied by Russia since the start of the invasion, which led to the destruction of many towns and villages. According to Kyiv, tens of thousands of people are still buried under rubble or in mass graves in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol.

In addition, Loubinets said, around 1,700 Ukrainians are being “illegally detained” by Russia.

Kyiv estimates that at least 20,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia from the occupied zones in the last two years. Just under 400 have been repatriated by the Ukrainian authorities to date. 

Ammunition shortage

Also on Tuesday, Zelensky reiterated the acute shortage of ammunition for artillery systems and anti-aircraft units. "Today we have one shell against 10 [Russian shells]. Can we hold out like this?" he said in an interview with US broadcaster PBS.

He warned of the consequences of the lack of US military assistance. "I tell you loud and clear, without this help we have no chance of victory." Republicans in Congress have long blocked a new support package for Kyiv.

"Today we have one shell against 10 [Russian shells]. Can we hold out like this?"

Last week, a law to mobilise more troops was passed by Ukraine's parliament. The bill, which has been under discussion for months, is controversial because it does not provide for demobilisation.

The legislation tightens registration rules, limits exemptions from military service and introduces penalties for those evading mobilisation. At the last minute, a clause that provided for the demobilisation of soldiers who had served 36 months was removed.


Officers from the White Angel special police force walk past destroyed buildings and debris during the evacuation of residents from the village of Ocheretyne in the Donetsk region, 15 April 2024 © ANATOLII STEPANOV / AFP

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