Russia defence ministry seeks greater secrecy on military deaths in Ukraine

·1 min read
Service members of pro-Russian troops gather in a street in Mariupol

LONDON (Reuters) - The Russian defence ministry has proposed that relatives of soldiers killed in Ukraine should have to apply to military rather than civilian authorities for compensation payments, imposing an extra level of secrecy around its war losses.

Russia already classifies military deaths as state secrets even in times of peace and has not updated its official casualty figures in Ukraine for nearly four weeks.

In its proposal, the defence ministry asked that the benefits paid to the families of fallen soldiers no longer be overseen by civilian officials but handled by enlistment offices instead. That move is designed to "limit the circle of people" with information on Russian troops killed in Ukraine, it said.

The proposal appeared on a government legal information website. It was unclear when it would be reviewed by the government.

The ministry said on March 25 that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded since Moscow launched what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine on Feb. 24.

It has provided no update on military casualties since then, but the Kremlin has spoken of "significant losses". Ukraine and Western governments have said they believe Russian casualties are many times higher.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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