Russian news site blames hack for nearly 10,000 military deaths in Ukraine

A Russian newspaper has accused hackers of spreading false information on its website after publishing a report for more than six hours saying nearly 10,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine. An article on the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid website, captured by a web archive tool, quotes the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that 9,861 Russian servicemen have been killed and 16,153 injured in what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine. .

These figures had been removed from a version of the same article visible on the site on Tuesday. Instead, a notice read: “On March 21, access to the administrator interface was hacked on the Komsomolskaya Pravda website and a fake insert was made in this post about the situation around the operation special in Ukraine. Inaccurate information was immediately deleted.”

If the figures were true, the Russian death toll from the 27-day war in Ukraine would be around two-thirds of the estimated 15,000 servicemen who died during the 10-year Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979. Russia has not officially updated its casualty figures since it said on March 2 that 498 service members had been killed and 1,597 wounded. Since then, his offensive has met with strong resistance from the Ukrainian military and volunteer defense forces.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday that he had no information on the number of casualties. He declined to comment on the website incident, saying it was a matter for the newspaper. Alexander Gamov, the newspaper’s Kremlin correspondent, said in the same call that his website was hacked and false information appeared on it for several minutes.

A search using the non-profit Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (archive.org) showed the numbers were visible on the Komsomolskaya Pravda website for six hours and 35 minutes between 12 p.m. 13 GMT and 18:48 GMT Monday. Records show the article was then briefly inaccessible before reappearing at 19:39 GMT without the number of victims.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, referring to the alleged Russian death toll of 9,861, wrote on Telegram: “This is only the beginning of the realization of their national catastrophe. Because in the real world there are almost twice as many Russians killed.” It has not been possible to independently verify any of the alleged claims.

Komsomsolskya Pravda is among the Russian media who have faithfully toed President Vladimir Putin’s line that Moscow is pursuing a special operation in Ukraine to demilitarize and “denazify” the country – an argument dismissed by Ukraine and the West as a false pretext to invade a democratic country. The incident marked the second time media loyal to the Kremlin line on the war have struggled to stay on message.

Last week, a Channel One State TV News editor appeared live in the studio for several seconds shouting anti-war slogans and holding a “NO WAR” poster during an evening newscast. The woman, Marina Ovsyannikova, was fined 30,000 rubles ($280) by a court after the Kremlin denounced her protest as “hooliganism”.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)