Why Russians/Soviets died a lot when fighting Western Powers?

Mar 2014
381
Norway
I have been looking at some Wars in Russian/Soviet history and they always seem to lose more men, win or lose, when fighting Western Countries.

My theory for why that is, that i just pulled out of my... as follows:

A. Little regard for individual life compared to cultures in the West.
B. Therefore very little invested in individual soldiers (equipment, training etc)
C. Therefore the state/generals can use them as cattle since both "morally" and economically big loses can be justified and are not as catastrophic as it would be for Western countries.


So i have 2 question:

Why Russians/Soviets died a lot more than westerners when they fought each other?

Is there any battle where Russians lost less men than westerners (Lets Exclude Turkey for this one)?
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,743
Lower Styria, Slovenia
It's a different mentality and culture, but even more, what historically Russia couldn't manage with being technologically superior, it managed with manpower. Always had plenty of that. Itcs the same with the Chinese in the Korean war etc.

Plus, Soviets weren't just Russians, so you have to note that other ethnicities were sometimes consideted less worth and often used as canon fodder. Ukrainians are a great example. Tatars also weren't really popular. So some commanders wouldn't spare them much but rather just throw in.

I am not sure as this is by far isn't my strong field, how did they do against the Swedes in the 18th century?
I also doubt they lost that many more man in Napoleonic times. I'm sure their loses are comparable to those of the Prussians and Austrians at Leipzig. And while they would lose a lot of men in diffect battles during Napoleon's Russian campaign (like Borodino or Smolensk, I think?), they'd achieve the oposite with guerilla fighting (the bridge on Berezina river).
 
Last edited:
Mar 2014
381
Norway
It's a different mentality and culture, but even more, what historically Russia couldn't manage with being technologically superior, it managed with manpower. Always had plenty of that. Itcs the same with the Chinese in the Korean war etc.

Plus, Soviets weren't just Russians, so you have to note that other ethnicities were sometimes consideted less worth and often used as canon fodder. Ukrainians are a great example. Tatars also weren't really popular. So some commanders wouldn't spare them much but rather just throw in.

I am not sure as this is by far isn't my strong field, how did they do against the Swedes in the 18th century?
I also doubt they lost that many more man in Napoleonic times. I'm sure their loses are comparable to those of the Prussians and Austrians at Leipzig. And while they would lose a lot of men in diffect battles during Napoleon's Russian campaign (like Borodino or Smolensk, I think?), they'd achieve the oposite with guerilla fighting (the bridge on Berezina river).
Would be nice to see any sources on that.

I am not saying it is not so, just would be strange if one considers how many ukrainian officers and Generals were in Red Army. Not sure about Russian Empire or Tatars thought...
 

Maribat

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
5,049
Soviets weren't just Russians, so you have to note that other ethnicities were sometimes consideted less worth and often used as canon fodder. Ukrainians are a great example. Tatars also weren't really popular. So some commanders wouldn't spare them much but rather just throw in.
I agree that the commanding staff never really cared much about the manpower loses. But your statement about the soviets using some ethnicities as a canon fodder (and apparently sparing Russians of the same fate) is not correct.
Let's look at the statistics:

Percent of the killed soldiers to the overall number of the GIs of that nationality:

Russians - 66%

Ukranians - 16%

Belorussians - 3%

Tatars - 2%

Percent of the killed to the whole ethnicity:

Russians - 5,78%

Ukrainians - 4,9%

Belorussians - 4,8%

Jews - 7,7%

Tatars - 4,35%


As you see your "Ukrainians are a great example" is not an example at all.
 
Jul 2014
505
Dam NSA and 'lluminaterz wanna know evrythin!
Well, (I am not Russian, my heritage(s) have had several wars with Russia, I not supporting them) firs off, most of the above is correct in one way or another but could use some editing. First off, Russia, being part of Eastern Europe had a lot of regional fighting. They were not able to train soldiers above the "if you see one, break a bottle and stab him." level. Second, Russia's population was an unhealthy combination of city slum dwellers, or village peasants. This made the people far too diverse in almost every respect (the city folks, and rurals almost had a different language). Third, they were far to focused on "colonializing" internally. They considered the barren middle of Russia just as important as the West. Although if railways were completed to Russia's mid and south, little would be accomplished. Only some small bandit peoples were there to fight, so those could wait. If all railway building would be formed in a kind of arch, from Moscow, to Siberia, to the east, then that would be far, far more productive, and useful. Next, they did not have seperate institutions for the military
The military police, and hospitals, were the same as the ordinary. Last but not least, corruption. Everyone took bribes, stole, and embezzled.

For successful wars and battles, take a look at the Crimean war. Specifically, the charge of the light brigade. Although it was glorious, the Russians lost 0 men. This war is rather strange for the Russians, because they fought a coalition on several sides, and they lost more land and money, but less people. This war was accomplished by using ahodge podge of superior artillery, cheap converted muskets, and a large rural supply of horses and food.
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,743
Lower Styria, Slovenia
Seems like I made a mistake but I heard that about Ukrainians on various occasions. Maribat, you're Russian and provided the numbers (which I don't really understand, Russians are the most so they'd die the most, or?), so it seems there is no real prove for my claims. I therefor apologise. I can quote cases, where they sent cavalry against German mashine gun nests in 1941 though. The casualties were huge, considering the percentage.
 
May 2012
817
In the Land of Russia where the Shadows lie
I have been looking at some Wars in Russian/Soviet history and they always seem to lose more men, win or lose, when fighting Western Countries.
Let's look at this "always" :

1. The Great Northern war of 1700 - 1721:

Russian casualties - 30 000 deaths

Swedish casualties - 200 000 deaths


2.The Patriotic war of 1812 against Napoleon.

Russian casualties - 210 000 deaths

Western casualties - 685 000 Grand Armee was almoust destroyed.


3. The Crimean war 1853-1856.

Russian casualties - 143 000 deaths

Western casualties - 168 000 deaths

4. The Great Patriotic war 1941 - 1945

Soviet military casualties - 8,6 million deaths

German military casualties - 21,5 million killed or captured.
 
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Apr 2011
1,087
Finland
Let's look at this "always" :

1. The Great Northern war of 1700 - 1721:

Russian casualties - 30 000 deaths

Swedish casualties - 200 000 deaths
Swedish casualties here include deaths by famine, deseases and exhaustion. Russian one is in combat. Total number is unknown (to wiki at least). Swedish casualties in action was 25000.
 
May 2012
817
In the Land of Russia where the Shadows lie
Swedish casualties here include deaths by famine, deseases and exhaustion. Russian one is in combat. Total number is unknown (to wiki at least). Swedish casualties in action was 25000.
There is no matter how did Russians force them to die.This does not change the total number of deaths - 200 000.
 
Apr 2011
1,087
Finland
2.The Patriotic war of 1812 against Napoleon.

Russian casualties - 210 000 deaths

Western casualties - 685 000 Grand Armee was almoust destroyed.
Western casualties were 380000. More than Russians but 685000 was the total strength of the army. It's not casualty even when they lost.

3. The Crimean war 1853-1856.

Russian casualties - 143 000 deaths

Western casualties - 168 000 deaths

4. The Great Patriotic war 1941 - 1945

Soviet military casualties - 8,6 million deaths

German military casualties - 21,5 million killed or captured.
You may have an extra zero in German casualties here.