ISSN 2330-717X

Massive Deaths In Russia From Pandemic Over Last Year May Help Putin Hide Ukrainian War Losses – OpEd


Even before glasnost, Soviet citizens knew something about the losses their military was taking in Afghanistan by the number of graves dug in local cemeteries. And even when Moscow lowballed the “official” figures, the people knew something closer to the truth from their own experience with funerals.


That pattern has continued in post-Soviet Russia with the powers that be consistently reporting low losses and the people realizing that the actual number of casualties must be far higher because the corpses are being sent back to their home areas of burial – and some observers are keeping track and summing these up.

But Vladimir Putin may have one great advantage in dealing with losses from his invasion of Ukraine: the number of Russians who died during the second pandemic year exceeded 2.4 million; and it will be relatively easier to obscure the number lost in the fighting in Ukraine.            

That is especially true because many funeral operators are running far behind in putting up monuments, and so it is entirely possible that it won’t be easy for the public to factor out deaths from combat ( and

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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