Friday, May 13, 2022

More Daghestani Soldiers have Died in Putin’s War in Ukraine than Did in Ten Years of Soviet War in Afghanistan

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 1 – Now that Moscow has classified information about military losses in Ukraine (, it is increasingly difficult to say just how many dead and wounded Russian soldiers there have been either for the country as a whole or its regions and republics.

            But independent surveys of regional media where deaths have been reported like the one conducted by Mediazone ( show that Daghestan has lost more men killed in Ukraine than any other region and more than that republic lost during the ten years of the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.

            In per capita terms, Buryatia has lost more men in Ukraine than Daghestan, but in terms of overall losses – a minimum of 125 – Daghestan remains the leader. And that has provoked discussion about why that republic occupies that position (

            Svetlana Golub of the Soldier’s Mothers Committee organization, says there are several reasons why at least reported deaths are higher in Daghestan than elsewhere. The dire economic situation there means that military service is often the only attractive option for young Daghestanis especially because a military ticket gives them a chance to become policemen.

            Adding to that is the fact that for many years, Moscow kept the draft quotas for the North Caucasus artificially low or non-existent, and so now when the center needs troops, it finds more willing candidates in Daghestan and its neighbors than in other parts of the Russian Federation, she suggests.

            But there are often factors at work too, Golub continues. Close-knit family and ethnic ties mean that soldiers from Daghestan report the loss of their fellow veterans more often, that the local communities insist on commemorating them, and local officials thus feel compelled to speak about this, perhaps confident that few in Moscow will notice.

            On the general problem of greater losses among non-Russian troops than among Russian ones, see this author’s articles at and

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