Ukrainian Casualties Soar: 70,000+ Dead After Southern Counter-Offensive

As international eyes remain fixed on Ukraine, recent estimates from unnamed US officials point to a concerning and dramatic surge in the death toll

by Faruk Imamovic
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Ukrainian Casualties Soar: 70,000+ Dead After Southern Counter-Offensive
© Getty Images News/Paula Bronstein

As international eyes remain fixed on Ukraine, recent estimates from unnamed US officials point to a concerning and dramatic surge in the death toll. Amidst the roar of battle and haze of war, reporters and citizens alike grapple with the visceral realities of loss and sacrifice.

Behind the Numbers: A Personal Account from Donetsk

At the heart of these grim statistics is the chilling experience of those who bear witness to the cost of war. BBC's Quentin Sommerville offers a haunting account from the eastern front, painting a bleak picture of a small brick morgue in Donetsk.

Here, bodies of unidentified soldiers are stacked high, and the dire responsibility of documenting the dead rests on the young shoulders of 26-year-old Margo. With a mix of respect and profound sorrow, Margo reveals, "It may sound weird… but I'm the one who wants to apologise for their deaths.

I want to thank them somehow. It's as if they can hear, but they can't respond." Though official figures from Ukraine are yet to be declared, insiders like Margo are keenly aware of the magnitude of the losses. The New York Times recently highlighted a disturbing claim by American officials, suggesting that deaths could mount up to 70,000, with injuries surpassing 120,000.

In contrast, the United Nations has only documented 9,177 civilian casualties. What breaks Margo's heart the most is seeing the lifeless bodies of young soldiers. She laments, "The hardest is when you see a dead young guy who hasn't even reached 20, 22 years old.

They were killed for their own land."

Mourning in Silence: Personal Grief Amid Public Duty

Margo's dedication to her challenging role was deeply tested when personal tragedy struck. She recounts the day her common-law husband, 23-year-old Andrej, was brought to the very morgue she worked in after falling in battle. "He died while defending his motherland," Margo states with a blend of pride and grief.

However, her anguish never finds a public outlet, "I keep all of this inside me [until] the evening when I come home. No-one sees my tears." The continuously changing dynamics of the war have left many baffled. Previous Pentagon leaks from April estimated the death toll at approximately 17,500.

The surge to a speculated 70,000 is partly attributed to the counter-offensive in the south, causing unparalleled challenges for the Ukrainian infantry. As the conflict rages on, the capture of Donetsk by Russia in May stands out as one of its bloodiest chapters.

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