airborne forces lost “40-50 percent of its staff” between February and September last year, a former Moscow military press official has said, as the Kremlin continues to hide its total losses sustained in since the invasion. The airborne forces, known as the VDV, are a highly specialised Russian military outfit that led the invasion efforts from the outset of the war, spearheading the failed attempt to take Kyiv in February and March. Mikhail Zvinchuk, a former military press official and creator of the Rybar channel on Telegram, told Russian state TV that the reason members of the VDV are no longer seen on the frontlines is that so many of them were killed in those first few months of offensives.

Mr Zvinchuk said: “Many are saying that you can’t see the airborne troops on the frontline. Unfortunately, this is the objective reality – by the start of mobilisation, our airborne forces lost 40-50 percent of staff.

“As of now, out of the old and tested formations with designated equipment, not that many are remaining.”

While it was known that the VDV suffered heavy losses in the first few months of the war, the scale of the losses had not been published by Russia.

The last time the Kremlin commented on the total number of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine was September when they suggested only 5,937 had died.

The latest Ukrainian figures suggest the true number of Russian soldiers that have died during the conflict is 128,420.

The VDV was made up of roughly 45,000 soldiers, most of whom were on professional contracts, prior to the invasion of Ukraine.

If the comments by Mr Zvinchuk hold up, that would make the Kremlin’s latest estimations on Russian deaths in Ukraine inaccurate by at least four-fold.

That does not take into consideration the fact that tens of thousands of Russian soldiers external to the VDV were killed in those first six months.

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