FACT CHECK: Have 13,000 Russian Troops Died In Russia’s Offensive On The Avdiivka-Novopavlivka Axis?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims U.S. intel said that 13,000 Russian troops died in Russia’s offensive on the Avidia-Novopavlivka axis.

Verdict: Misleading

13,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded, according to a National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson. Politico later corrected its story.

Fact Check:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the White House as he and President Joe Biden are pushing Congress to approve more aid to Ukraine, according to CBS News.

In the midst of Zelenskyy’s visit, social media users are sharing claims that 13,000 Russian troops have been killed in its offensive in a key part of eastern Ukraine. One user wrote, “U.S. intel: ‘More than 13,000 Russian soldiers have been killed and over 220 combat vehicles destroyed along the Avdiivka-Novopavlivka axis in eastern Ukraine since October.'”

This claim, however, is misleading. The claim appears to be based off a Politico article that claimed “[t]he U.S. assesses that more than 13,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in a key eastern Ukrainian battleground since October.” This is based off of NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson’s comments that were shared with multiple media outlets such as the New York Times and Politico.

An NSC spokesperson shared part of Watson’s comments with Check Your Fact. (RELATED: No, BBC Did Not Publish A Video About Ukrainian Official Under Investigation For Sending Weapons To Hamas)

“Since launching its offensive in October, we assess that the Russian military has suffered more than 13,000 casualties along the Avdiivka-Novopavlivka axis and over 220 combat vehicle losses-the equivalent of 6 maneuver battalions in equipment alone,” Watson said.

The spokesperson said that “casualties refer to dead and wounded.”

The spokesperson added, “that this shows how Ukraine is having success stopping Russian forces but Putin is continuing to order his troops forward, which is why it’s critical we continue to support Ukraine and make sure they have what they need to defend themselves.”

The Politico story has since been corrected to note Russia has suffered 13,000 killed and wounded, not just killed. The correction reads, “A previous version of this story gave an incorrect number for Russian casualties since October. More than 13,000 have been killed or wounded.”

The incorrect number was published in a Politico Playbook PM story that quotes from a previous version of the since-corrected article. Melissa Cooke, Politico’s communications director, told Check Your Fact that the “piece was updated with a correction shortly after publishing and Playbook PM links to the corrected story.”

“Additionally, the digital version of PM is in process of being updated,” Cooke said. The piece has since been updated to include the corrected numbers.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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