EU Commission Under Fire After Tweeting Massive Ukrainian Military Losses
Story Code : 1028062
Under questioning during a press conference Thursday, Spinant refused to provide any explanation as to how the number of casualties was generated but insisted “there are many figures regarding casualties out there in open sources,” claiming “such figures are given by many military experts.”
On Wednesday, von der Leyen was widely criticized after publishing – then quickly removing – a video from social media in which she revealed the alarming level of Ukrainian casualties, before publishing a hastily-edited version of the same video from which Kiev’s losses had been cropped.
The damaging remarks came in a speech by von der Leyen aimed at generating support for establishing an international legal body to try Russians for alleged “war crimes” supposedly carried out amid ongoing military operations in Ukraine. A video and transcript of the speech issued by the European Commission were subsequently removed and republished with the offending information omitted as well.
Discussing the situation at an EU Commission presser, journalists in attendance were unrelenting:
“The president was German Minister of Defense for five and half years,” noted one. “How come she didn’t sit up immediately when somebody put a text in front of her to read for the video that said 100,000 Ukrainian officers were killed?”
“It is highly, highly implausible that Ukraine even has 100,000 officers, let alone 100,000 that were killed,” the reporter went on to note. “Does she actually read these things for herself?”
But the spokeswoman evaded the question, claiming instead that “we do not consider it productive with hindsight to refer to numbers and figures.”
“Indeed, in an initial version of the communication, some figures were mentioned with regards to casualties, the aim being indeed, that of showing brutality of the Russian campaign and invasion of Ukraine, which is known to everybody and is important to expose,” Spinant stated. “And therefore, in a subsequent version of the communication, we decided to exclude any figures, to avoid the focus being on figures, but to focus on the very important task we had, together with our partners, and together with the Ukrainian authorities – which is that of holding Russia accountable.”
When the Russian Ministry of Defense last released its Ukrainian casualty figures in September, it estimated 61,207 of Kiev’s forces had been killed on the battlefield. So – assuming von der Leyen meant ‘Ukrainian soldiers’ rather than ‘Ukrainian officers’ – the estimate revealed Wednesday by the European Commission president is largely congruent with Russian calculations.
Claiming “the losses of the Ukrainian army are classified information and are subject to restrictions on publication,” a spokesman for the Ukrainian military told media that “we cannot confirm [the] figure” of 100,000 soldiers killed. But, somewhat revealingly, he went on to state that “if the information announced by the president of the European Commission will allow us to bring the aggressor country to justice, we can only support” it.