Using open sources, BBC Russia, together with Mediazona, a Russian independent media outlet, established the names of 21,700 Russian soldiers who had been killed in the war in Ukraine. The media carry out a name-by-name count of the dead.
Of those, at least 3,401 are members of Russia's elite forces, include intelligence officers, Russian National Guard, paratroopers, marines and pilots.
BBC and Mediazona say that according to the most conservative estimates, Russia may have lost about 43,400 people. At the same time, Russia's total irretrievable losses, which include wounded, killed or missing, may amount to 195,000.
Fourteen months into the war, the number of Russian military casualties verified through open sources has long since surpassed the officially confirmed number of deaths of Soviet soldiers during the nine-year war in Afghanistan. Over 15,000 Soviet troops were killed in Afghanistan from 1979 until 1989.
According to American and other Western officials, the number of Russian troops killed and wounded in Ukraine may be approaching 200,000. The officials cautioned that casualties are extremely difficult to estimate, particularly because Russia is believed to undercount its war dead and injured routinely.