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Military deaths rise and fall

More Russian servicemen are dying in combat this year than last, but overall deaths in the armed forces have fallen:

Russia soldierBattle casualties in the Russian Armed Forces continue to rise. They accounted for only 10 percent of all deaths in the Armed Forces in 2006, when 57 servicemen were killed in Chechnya. In the first five months of 2007 alone, however, 30 combat casualties in Chechnya accounted for 16.3 percent of all deaths in the armed forces.

RFE/RL headlines this story (translated from an original Nezavisimaya Gazeta story) as “Military Deaths on the Rise“. But actually, a closer look at the figures reveals the opposite.

(Bear with me through the gory maths).

If 30 soldiers have died in combat in just five months this year then, if we extrapolate over the course of 12 months, we can assume that 72 soldiers will be killed in action.

But, as those 72 soldiers will make up 16.3% of the total who can be expected to die this year, then the total number of deaths in the Russian armed forces this year should only be 442 – a reduction of 128 over last year’s toll.

Is this just a statistical blip, or does this signify that Russia’s armed forces are beginning to get serious about protecting their own soldiers from bullying, exploitation, and working in unsafe environments?

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