A Ukrainian government adviser told CNN there is a chance that ‘Putin’s power will be limited by his own people’

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Destroyed Russian military vehicles are seen on a street in the settlement of Borodyanka, Ukraine, March 3. (Maksim Levin/Reuters)

It has been nearly a month since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, deploying tens of thousands of troops in an offensive against its neighbor from three sides.

While the Ukrainian army is much smaller, its forces mounted fierce resistance which succeeded in delaying Russian advances in parts of the country. A senior NATO intelligence official said on Monday there were signs of a stalemate in the Russian offensive, with Russian ground forces remaining at a standstill and Russian warplanes unable to achieve air superiority.

It is unclear exactly how many Russian soldiers have been killed in their campaign so far.

On March 2, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson put the number of dead Russian servicemen at 498. But that number has not been updated by authorities since then.

Then on Monday, a pro-Putin Russian tabloid published — and later withdrew — a report with an updated death toll of 9,861 Russian armed forces in the war in Ukraine, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid report originally said, “According to the Russian Defense Ministry, during the special operation in Ukraine, the Russian armed forces lost 9,861 people killed and 16,153 injured.”

CNN analyzed the website’s HTML code, which indicated that the article was published at 12:09 a.m. Moscow time on Monday.

Seconds after CNN read the original article — at 9:56 p.m. Moscow time, according to the HTML code — the story was updated and all references to the number of deaths removed. This update on the outlet’s website came shortly after the article began to attract the attention of social media posts, which referenced the death toll.

The tabloid’s original report is in line with US Department of Defense estimates that there were up to 10,000 Russian servicemen killed. Ukraine put the number even higher.

CNN is unable to independently verify any of these numbers.

After the update, Komsomolskaya Pravda, released a statement saying that “access to the admin interface was hacked” and “a fake insert was inserted into a post.”

They claimed that “inaccurate information was immediately removed”. CNN’s analysis showed the update came after 9 p.m.

The Kremlin dodged questions about the course of the war in Ukraine, which were posed to the Defense Ministry on Tuesday. The ministry said it “does not have the authority” to release the Russian military death toll while the “military operation” is still ongoing.

CNN’s Natasha Bertrand, Paul P. Murphy, Vasco Cotovio, and Nathan Hodge contributed to this post.

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