Russia has a cadre of readied excuses to deny death benefits to dead soldiers’ families
Russia appears to be denying, and perhaps may be unable to pay, death benefits promised to the families of dead soldiers. According to officially published data from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as of May 6, it is likely that Russia has lost at least 25,000 soldiers.
The last death count recognized by Russia was 1,351 on March 25th. Using the Ukrainian loss estimates, the death benefits owed by the Kremlin to the soldiers' families have already reached $4.3 billion. This estimate reflects the payments that Putin personally promised to families in early March.
A draft resolution from Russia indicates that the Kremlin is seeking to classify information about the families of dead soldiers. This may make it difficult, or even impossible, for families to claim benefits and for people to return bodies to families. Typically, the process is not handled by the military but by social insurance authorities. The move could allow the military to conceal deaths and broadly deny benefits.
Examples of excuses from the Kremlin
The translated letter below was received by a family. Dmytro Shkrebets was officially informed by the military prosecutor's office that the ship was not part of Ukraine's territorial waters, did not take part in the "special operation" and his son was declared "missing in the military unit.”
Shkrebets reported on Vkontakte that his son was aboard the Moskva and was listed as "missing,” earlier in the war.
A post about a Russian soldier refers to him as dying on the border with Ukraine, but it is unclear exactly where that is since Russia does not recognize the sovereign borders of Ukraine. From the Kremlin's perspective, Ukraine does not exist, except for paying death benefits.