Zelensky Adviser: 100-200 Ukrainian Soldiers Are Now Dying Daily

He was speaking to BBC in the context of asking for more Western heavy weapons

Speaking to BBC Mihailo Podoliak, an advisor to Zelensky, was asked (at the 4-minute mark) about the level of casualties the Ukrainian military was currently enduring. Podoliak used the question to lobby for more weapons for Ukraine. He even sets up an emotional blackmail situation where he states that if the West sent the weapons Ukraine is currently asking for then the current high casualties will come down:

Unfortunately, fighting in the east of the country is very intense. And as a result, daily losses have grown to between 100 to 200 people a day. And the reason for this is the complete lack of parity when it comes to artillery between the two armies. The Russian forces have thrown pretty much everything non-nuclear at the front and that includes, MLRS, and aviation. That has increased the casualties. And therefore we say to our partners that our demands for artillery whim on the part of Ukraine but an objective need when it comes to the situation on the battlefield. We are ready to fight. Our soldiers are ready to pay any price. But nonetheless we want some kind of parity when it comes to firing power. And we think if we are able to gain that parity it will significantly reduce the mortality and the number of dead and wounded that we are currently sustaining.   

I think in this context, when Kiev officials are talking to foreign media and asking for more weapons, they do not have much of an incentive to downplay Ukrainian casualties at all. On the contrary, their incentive is to play up their casualties for the West — an incentive tempered by domestic needs in the opposite direction.

When they present Ukrainian casualties as being high that sets up Ukrainians as heroically tenacious and worthy of support. The idea is to shame the West in the sense that Ukrainians are giving up 100 to 200 soldiers daily but the West won’t even send some howitzers and MLRS.

BBC:

Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the President’s Office, said that the losses of the Ukrainian military now range from 100 to 200 people every day. These are the largest figures published during the war.

In an interview with BBC World Service Newshour, Mykhailo Podoliak said that one of the main reasons for the large number of losses was the lack of parity between Ukrainian and Russian military capabilities.

Podoliak said Ukraine needed hundreds, not a handful, of the most powerful artillery systems the West could provide.

He told the BBC that Ukraine needed up to 300 missile systems to be able to achieve parity with Russia’s firepower and liberate the occupied territories.

Podoliak adds that “until Russia suffers a serious military defeat, no form of dialogue will be possible, and they will continue to try to seize part of our country.”

Honestly, I think that with Kiev having the mixed incentive of playing up losses for the West, and playing them down for the domestic audience that overall their pronouncements on own losses are somewhat truthful.

This is the fourth time they have spoken of their casualty levels. (3 earlier times it was Zelensky and now his adviser.) Clearly they clearly want the information on their dead out. If they didn’t, they could just stay mum like Russia.

The patently untrue claim that they are inflicting 300 dead daily on the Russians gives them the space to cite a number like 100-200 for themselves and still look good by comparison. (Once again the rule that a side will lie about enemy casualties much more than about its own comes through.)

5 Comments
  1. Agarwal says

    If the Ukrainians think that exaggerating their number of dead will increase western support, I think they need to take propaganda class again. Other Ukrainian officials have said recently that the West is tiring of the war. Western media pivoted from Ukraine winning to Ukraine taking heavy losses, and even started blaming Ukraine for not letting western intelligence know how bad their situation is (in a recent NY Times article, where that paper serves as an outlet for American intelligence analysts). This sounds like creating a setup to deflect blame for a Russian win onto other parties (in this case Zelenski and the “after all still barbarous, primitive Ukrainians”)

    The more likely case is that Ukrainians are in fact still undercounting their casualties. Doing otherwise would risk turning Ukraine into a lost cause for the west and even for many Ukrainians themselves.

    The west and perhaps the Ukrainian army is tiring or stories about Russia running out of supplies in 3 days (a guardian article I accidentally saw yesterday, dated to March 21), huge counter offenses that push the Russians back for tens of kilometers, wait that get squashed as soon as they get started, etc. So complete fantasy is out, but that doesn’t mean that real casualty numbers are in.

    Maybe the Russians really are winning?

  2. Agarwal says

    No ministry of information will tell the truth during a war, but Ukraine has been particularly shameless and brazen in its lying since the war started. But they are at least consistent – minimize Ukrainian losses to create the image of a soon to be victorious Ukraine, and exaggerate Russian losses to the point of farce. I forgot what the official claims are, 1000 Russian jets shot down, Russia running out of supplies in 3 days or 1 week for 3 months in a row, 30,000 Ukrainian civilians and 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed (in the first month), 2 giant Russian troop transports shot down in the first few days without any trace of remains since then, there are far far too many examples to list.

    And now, magically, the Ukrainian spokespeople magically discover sobriety & honesty in their claims? If there is one thing certain in this war, 95%+ of information put out by Ukraine is false, and false my a lot.

  3. paul bryce says

    Here the author goes again trying to explain away his Ukraine western narrative bias. Embarassing.

  4. JASMINE says

    Oscar Peterson.
    Erwan Castel is a true person that honors France. God bless him
    “But is his complaint focused on Russian media messaging to the Russian public or “western Putin-fanboy analysts”? I guess the latter” Your guessing well. His writings are written for a French audience and he refers mainly to French/ Russians commentators like Xavier Moreau who has a large audience and no nuance what so ever. There are the same propagandists in the English speaking alternative medias.
    Respectueusement

  5. Dave Newman says

    I must admit, I’m not a frequent reader here. But this side makes the claim to be Anti-Empire (which one) and basically neutral and unbiased in the present Russia/Ukraine conflict. I’m 72 years old and if there’s one thing I learned during these years, then it is that there are no neutrals. Everyone has a bias for or against.
    Am I the only one that has this nagging feeling that Anti-Empire is actually a lot more Pro-Empire in more ways than one?
    Let’s hear it…

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