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8 Jan, 2024 10:14

Ukraine has lost 500,000 troops – ex prosecutor general

Kiev must come clean on the true scale of the losses, Yury Lutsenko insists
Ukraine has lost 500,000 troops – ex prosecutor general

Ukraine’s leaders should frankly admit that they have lost 500,000 service members since the start of the conflict with Russia, and that the monthly casualty rate is at around 30,000, former prosecutor general Yury Lutsenko has said.

President Vladimir Zelensky's goverment could convince reluctant citizens to join the fight by publicly admitting the heavy losses on the battlefield and declaring that the country’s very existence is in jeopardy, he believes.

Ukrainians “must know how many have died, and then all debates about the mobilization will be settled,” he added.

Speaking to the country's media on Wednesday, the former official proposed a number of steps to address the draft-dodging and corruption that is hampering the country’s conscription efforts.

He suggested that new legislation must be introduced by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, the country’s defense minister, and top army general to emphasize the seriousness of the situation.

“They should say how many Ukrainians have died. I know that this news will be received badly. But there is no other way to bring out of the comfort zone millions of those who hide behind bogus stories that everyone can serve except me,” Lutsenko said.

According to Lutsenko, this “shock” would lead to large queues at recruitment offices, as had occurred in February 2022. Another important measure, according to the former official, would be the campaign to send members of the Ukrainian elite to the frontline.

“The army should not be all workers and peasants. Everyone should fight for Ukraine,” he stated, arguing that this would encourage ordinary citizens who he said have a very strong sense of justice.

Zelensky said in December that the Ukrainian military had asked him to mobilize another 450,000 or 500,000 soldiers to make up for battlefield losses. Later that month, the government introduced a mobilization bill proposing to lower the recruitment age from 27 to 25 and eliminate exemptions for some categories of disabled people.

The initiative comes after Ukraine launched a large counteroffensive in early June, which failed to gain any substantial ground. Moscow has described Kiev’s losses as catastrophic, estimating them at around 160,000 since the start of the push. Ukraine, however, has been reluctant to officially publish data on its casualties.