We typically deal in this space with large numbers — millions of Ukrainian refugees or hundreds of thousands of Russians leaving their country; the numbers of civilian and military casualties; or sums in the billions of dollars involving economic sanctions, relief aid and food supplies lost due to the war. This week, we highlight a very small number that packs a powerful impact.
Safe to say that before this war began, few people who weren’t military experts knew what the acronym HIMARS stood for or what a HIMARS weapons system was. Even after the Russian invasion, as NATO and the U.S. began supplying weaponry to the Ukrainian resistance, the HIMARS weren’t really in the picture.
This week’s news that four more HIMARS (they are highly sophisticated mobile rocket launchers) are being delivered to Ukraine brings to 20 the number sent since the war began. It may seem a small number, but Ukrainians will tell you that every one of these systems has been critical to its defense against the Russian invasion. Ukrainian and Western military officials say the HIMARS have destroyed hundreds of Russian military targets. In some cases, their mobility and accuracy have allowed Ukrainian forces to turn from defensive to offensive military operations.
Other numbers for context: This week’s HIMARS announcement is part of the latest U.S. military aid package for Ukraine — the 22nd such tranche announced since August 2021. This one carries a $625 million price tag; the overall outlay this year alone for Ukraine is now $12.9 billion.
Oh — and about that acronym? HIMARS stands for “High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.”
Grid’s reporting is based on the best available data and reporting; In some cases, we explained a range of figures or the reason we chose one over another. We originally published this document on March 24 and will update it every Thursday as long as the war persists.
Civilians killed: at least 6,100 (probably thousands more)
On June 7, a Ukrainian official said at least 40,000 Ukrainian civilians had been killed or wounded since the war began. The official offered no breakdown of dead versus wounded civilians. The United Nations’ latest estimate of civilians killed is over 6,100, but it consistently notes the figure is an undercount, as is its estimate of total casualties — a combination of deaths and injuries — given as over 15,000. (Updated Oct. 5; source.)
Ukrainian soldiers killed: 5,500 to 11,000
Top advisers to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have estimated in June that 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the war began. Meanwhile, on Aug. 22, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, said the country had lost about 9,000 troops. In mid-April, U.S. intelligence officials put the number at 5,500 to 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed since the invasion. On June 10, an adviser to Zelenskyy said Ukraine was losing as many as 200 soldiers each day. (Updated Aug. 24; source, source, source.)
Russian soldiers killed: 5,937 to over 60,000
Ukraine has raised its estimate of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict to more than 60,000 this week. In March, NATO estimated Russian troop losses at between 7,000 and 15,000, and in August, CIA Director William Burns assessed the number to be around 15,000. In its first update on casualties since March, in late September, Russia claimed there were 5,937 military deaths. Russian spokesman Dimitry Peskov said in April that there have been “significant losses of troops, and it’s a huge tragedy for us.” (Updated Oct. 5; source, source.)
Russian generals killed: 8 to 13
A retired Russian general was reportedly shot down over Luhansk in late May — by Ukrainian counts, this was the 13th Russian general to be killed in Ukraine. Previously, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that eight to 10 Russian generals had been killed in Ukraine. Grid’s Tom Nagorski and Joshua Keating previously reported on the possible explanations for this “inconceivable” toll: poor communications and command-and-control structures within the Russian military. (Updated May 25; source, source.)
Total displaced Ukrainians: at least 14 million
There are over 7.5 million Ukrainian refugees reported in other European countries currently. United Nations data indicates more than 13 million Ukrainians have crossed the border since the start of the war, but millions have returned home, largely from Poland, as Nikhil Kumar and Kseniia Lisnycha reported. The International Organization for Migration’s latest survey of internally displaced Ukrainians this week found more Ukrainians returning home from within Ukraine, but more than 6 million remained displaced within their own country. (Updated Oct. 5; source; source.)
Internally displaced Ukrainians: more than 6 million
An overview of the violence
Global food markets: Wheat prices back to preinvasion levels, as of Wednesday, after weeks of fluctuation
Recent Grid coverage
- Fighting Russia with a laptop: Meet the women on the front lines of Ukraine’s information war (Oct. 3)
- Kidnapping of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia NPP chief highlights ongoing danger: ‘Russia will push as far as it can’ (Oct. 3)
- Vladimir Putin makes the war in Ukraine even more dangerous by annexing 15 percent of Ukrainian territory (Sept. 30)
- How Putin’s Ukraine war mobilization order changed everything in Russia: Panic, anger and calls to secede (Sept. 27)
Learn more: Grid’s 360s on the Ukraine War
Thanks to Alicia Benjamin for copy editing this article.