220 Russian soldiers killed fighting in Ukraine, says new report by slain Kremlin opponent

Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov's posthumous report says 220 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine
(Image credit: Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, allies of slain Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov released a report on Russia's involvement in Ukraine's civil conflict, based on the research and notes Nemtsov left behind when still-unidentified gunmen murdered him outside the Kremlin in February. The posthumous report says that despite Moscow's repeated denial of direct involvement in Ukraine's conflict, 150 Russian soldiers died in fighting in Eastern Ukraine last year and another 70 were killed during an assault on Debaltseve by Moscow-aligned separatists in January and February.

Nemtsov was focusing on whether Russia was paying death benefits to the families of the killed soldiers, finding that in some cases they were not. That's because, the report said, the soldiers were made to officially resign before crossing over into Ukraine to "volunteer" with the separatists, apparently after being assured their families would be paid anyway in the case of death or disability.

“The report gathered definitive evidence of the Kremlin's military intervention in the conflict in Ukraine,” said Ilya Yashin, the editor of the report and a Nemtsov ally, at a news conference in Moscow. "We cannot prove that Nemtsov was killed for preparing this report, and we cannot prove that he was not killed for this reason.... We knew this was dangerous work."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.