November 24, 2022

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The Ukraine War in data: After 9 months of war, what the data tells us

The Ukraine War in data: After 9 months of war, what the data tells us

It’s nine months ago that Russian troops went into Ukraine. Nine months ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin told his people and the world that a “special military operation” was required to purge Ukraine of its “Nazi” and “genocidal” regime. These were the first salvos of lies and misinformation that would become a regular feature of a Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Western governments and military experts — and by all accounts Putin and his top advisers themselves — thought the “operation” would be brief. It’s now nine months old, with no negotiations underway and no other endgames in view.

In this week’s edition of the war in data, we use the available data to step back and take stock of where things stand in the war, from a range of perspectives.

First, the battlefield. For all the surprise gains made by the Ukrainian resistance, one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory remains in Russian hands. The good news for the Ukrainians is that recent momentum is with their side; Ukraine’s armed forces have now reclaimed about 55 percent of the territory Russia had occupied earlier in the war.

Next, the casualties. As we have said here before, reporting on casualties of this war has been difficult. The data below breaks things down in terms of the varying estimates from different sources, but recently the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated that more than 100,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine since the war began. The assessment of Ukrainian casualties was nearly as high. It’s a staggering toll — and it continues to grow.

As far as civilians are concerned, these numbers are also difficult to assess with accuracy. The United Nations body that tracks civilian casualties in Ukraine has most recently given 6,500 as its figure for the civilian toll, but it only counts a death once a name and other details can be confirmed. Ukrainian officials have estimated that some 40,000 civilians have been killed.

Meanwhile, more than 7.8 million people have fled Ukraine as refugees since February, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency; millions more have fled their homes but stayed in the country. It is far and away the largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II. And while a sizable number of refugees have begun to return — for the past few months, traffic at the main border crossing with Poland has been roughly even in both directions — that may change in the coming weeks. This week, the World Health Organization warned that as many as 3 million more Ukrainians will likely leave their homes this winter, as Ukraine’s government begins evacuating areas where it says it cannot guarantee adequate supplies of power and heat.

Ten million Ukrainians are now living without power, Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, told reporters, and half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed by recent Russian missile attacks.

A less-covered movement of people is the exodus of Russians from their country. There was an initial wave of roughly 200,000 citizens who left Russia within the first month of the war. That migration stalled for several months before a burst in September, following Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization. More than 370,000 Russians are believed to have fled the country in the weeks that followed.

Other metrics of war at the nine-month mark:

According to Oryx, which tracks figures for Russian equipment lost on the battlefield (“lost” being defined as destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured), Russia has lost 1,503 tanks, 154 Multiple Rocket Launchers, 63 aircraft, 71 helicopters and 12 naval vessels.

And when it comes to economic knock-on effects, two figures that might come as surprises: Benchmark prices for oil spiked soon after the Russian invasion, but they have dropped significantly since, from $92.81 on Feb. 24 to $77.29 as of Wednesday. And in the same time frame, the price of a bushel of wheat has fallen from $9.34 to $8.10.

Lastly, this week brought one new metric, born of those infrastructure crises that are crippling parts of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Tuesday that 4,000 centers are being set up across the country where basic needs — heat, power, water and sanitation — are to be provided, no matter what happens in the weeks and months to come.

We offer a more comprehensive set of data points on the war in Ukraine below. Grid originally published this document on March 24, the one-month anniversary of the war. We update it every Thursday to provide a fuller picture of the conflict.

Civilians killed: at least 6,500 (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 more than 6,500, but it consistently notes the figure is an underestimate, as is its estimate of total casualties — a combination of deaths and injuries — given as more than 16,000. (Updated Nov. 23; source, source, source.)

Ukrainian soldiers killed: 5,500 to 11,000

Top advisers to Zelenskyy estimated in June that 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the war began. On June 10, an adviser to Zelenskyy said Ukraine was losing as many as 200 soldiers each day. 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. In early November, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, estimated that both sides had about 100,000 soldiers killed or injured. (Updated Nov. 23; source, source, source.)

Russian soldiers killed: 5,937 to more than 85,000

From the early days of the war, casualty counts for Russian soldiers have varied widely — depending on the source. Ukraine raised its estimate of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict to more than 85,000 on Wednesday. These numbers have been updated frequently through the Facebook page for the country’s General Staff of the Armed Forces. In its first update on casualties since March, Russia claimed in late September that there had been 5,937 Russian military deaths. Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said in April that there had been “significant losses of troops, and it’s a huge tragedy for us.”

Russia has also suffered a high rate of casualties among senior officers. Thirteen Russian generals have been killed, according to Ukrainian authorities; the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency puts the figure at between eight and 10. 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 Nov. 23; source.)

Total displaced Ukrainians: more than 14 million

There are more than 7.8 million Ukrainian refugees currently reported in other European countries. United Nations data indicates more than 15 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. In late October, the International Organization for Migration’s latest survey of internally displaced Ukrainians found more Ukrainians returning home from within Ukraine, but 6.5 million remained displaced within their own country. (Updated Nov. 23; source; source.)

Internally displaced Ukrainians: more than 6.5 million

An overview of the violence

Global food markets: Wheat prices down 11 percent after an initial spike as of Wednesday, after weeks of fluctuation

Recent Grid coverage

Learn more: Grid’s 360s on the Ukraine War

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