Russia appears to be denying—and perhaps cannot pay—death benefits promised to the families of dead soldiers. According to the officially published data of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as of May 6, Russia has likely lost at least 25,000 soldiers.
The last officially recognized death count announced by Russia was 1,351 on March 25th. Using the Ukrainian loss estimates, the death benefits Kremlin owes to the soldiers’ families have already reached $4.3 billion. The estimate reflects the payments Putin personally promised to families in early March.
A draft resolution from Russia indicates that the Kremlin is seeking to classify information about the dead soldier’s families. This may make it harder or even impossible for families to claim benefits and difficult for people to return bodies to families. Typically the process is not handled by the military but by the social insurance authorities. The move could allow the military to conceal deaths and deny benefits broadly.
Excuses from the Kremlin as of May 7th
Your son didn’t die; he’s just missing.
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.
He died on the border so, sorry, but we’re not paying.
A post about a Russian soldier refers to him as dying on the border with Ukraine, but where precisely that means is something of a mystery. Russia does not observe the sovereign borders of Ukraine. From the Kremlin’s perspective, Ukraine does not exist. The lone exception appears to be when paying death benefits is concerned.