Former President Donald Trump stated during Thursday’s town hall-style forum that officials are lying about the real number of casualties suffered in the Russia–Ukraine war.
Speaking in Clive, Iowa, at his second major televised event ahead of the 2024 primary election, Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he gets along with both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin and argued that he would end the war between the two countries in 24 hours.
“I don’t want that war to continue. And I’ll stop that war—mark my words—I’ll stop that war in 24 hours,” Trump stated. “Right now, it’s a mess, now they’re hitting Kyiv, and they’re hitting all sorts of things that weren’t supposed to be hit. The country is being decimated.”
“By the way, the deaths are far more than they’re reporting,” he continued. “When they say: ‘Nine apartment houses got knocked down, and two people got hurt’—no, no, hundreds of people died. The numbers are much different than what you’re being told.”
When Hannity asked how he would end the war in 24 hours, Trump said he knew how to talk to leaders of both countries.
“I will get them into a room, and I know an exact way … you tell one, ‘You’re not going to get anything unless you make a deal.’ You tell the other one, ‘They’re going to get a lot unless you make a deal,'” Trump said without disclosing specifics. “And you just sit them … and you have to make a determination.”
“You need the power of the Oval Office, you do. You can’t just walk in and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to settle the deal’—you need the power of the presidency,” he added, noting the war “should have never ever started. It’s a horrible war.”
Trump also said that he was able to see Putin had the intention to invade Ukraine while he was still in office. “It was always the apple of his eye. I could see that,” he said.
The Republican frontrunner hinted about threats that he apparently made to keep Putin in check.
“I said things that were very bad, very nasty,” he said without disclosing specifics, noting that he thinks Putin believed only about “10 percent” of his admonition, but that was enough.
Trump also stated that Putin, as well as other world leaders, saw it as a sign of American weakness when President Joe Biden hastily evacuated U.S. forces out of Afghanistan and left military equipment behind.
Window Into Casualty Figures
According to the latest data released by the United Nations Human Rights Office on May 8, at least 8,791 noncombatants were confirmed killed in Ukraine, with 14,815 injured.
The United Nations noted that the actual death toll is likely “considerably higher,” and the presented figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
“The receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed, and many reports are still pending corroboration,” the organization stated.
Combat fatalities in the Russia–Ukraine conflict have been notoriously difficult to estimate as neither side gives timely data on military losses. Both countries are also believed to be playing down their own troop losses while inflating the enemy’s, making it very hard to get accurate numbers.
However, recently leaked U.S. intelligence documents—which first appeared on the social media network Discord in March—allegedly contained highly classified defense and intelligence information. The documents allege that up to 354,000 Ukrainian and Russian soldiers have been killed or injured since the start of Moscow’s full-scale invasion.
NTD can’t confirm the authenticity of the documents, but if authentic, the figures are around 10 times bigger than any public casualty figures published by either Moscow or Kyiv.
According to an assessment collated by the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, Russia has suffered 189,500-223,000 total casualties, including 35,500-43,000 killed in action and 154,000-180,000 wounded.
Ukraine has suffered 124,500-131,000 total casualties, including 15,500-17,500 killed in action and 109,000-113,500 wounded in action, according to the document entitled “Russia/Ukraine—Assessed Combat Sustainability and Attrition.”
The leaked files on casualties were embossed with emblems of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency.
Some countries, including Russia and Ukraine, have questioned the veracity of the documents. A Russian official said in April that the leak could be part of a disinformation campaign.
“Given that the United States is a party to the conflict [in Ukraine] and is waging a hybrid war against us, it’s possible that such ploys may be used to mislead … the Russian Federation,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member, has been accused of leaking the documents and will remain in jail as he awaits trial on charges he violated the Espionage Act, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Hennessy ruled last month. No trial date has been set.
Reuters contributed to this report.