As we near the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Grid has reported this week on what the war has taught the world, how it has changed Russia and how it has made unexpected “winners” of many nations, companies and individuals.
Now, in this space — where Grid has regularly published statistics and metrics to help understand the course of the war — a review of where things stand one year in, from the perspective of data.
To begin with one of the most important statistics, which remains among the most elusive: casualties on either side. There is a vast gulf between the reporting from Russia and Ukraine, but Western intelligence agencies estimated recently that some 200,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded since the war began. The Ukrainian toll is believed to be lower — but still more than 100,000 dead or wounded troops. These are staggering figures for both countries; beyond the grief and loss, the numbers have raised questions about how long the two armies can sustain this pace of fighting. In Russia, the losses have led to the deeply unpopular mobilization of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and the deployment of former prisoners, freed for the express purpose of being dispatched to battle.
The official toll of Ukrainian civilian deaths is at least 8,000; even the United Nations, which keeps these figures, acknowledges that the actual toll is far higher. These are only the dead whose identities have been confirmed; in many of the more active theaters of the war, such identification has been difficult if not impossible. Independent assessments have put the civilian toll closer to 100,000.
A statistic that has proved easier to keep — and it’s another staggering one: Some 14 million Ukrainians have fled their homes — either to other countries or other parts of their own country. Poland has absorbed far more refugees than any other nation — according to the U.N. refugee agency, Poland was at one point sheltering nearly 5 million refugees of the war; today, more than 1.5 million people from Ukraine are living in Poland.
Meanwhile, a large number of Russians have left their country — somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million, depending on the source. It’s only a fraction of the numbers in the exodus from Ukraine, but it’s particularly high given than no one in Russia is fleeing missile strikes or bombardment. As Grid has reported, these are people leaving either because of the mobilizations, the economic situation, or because they are against the war and fear retribution for their views.
On the subject of retribution: An estimated 20,000 Russians have been arrested for protesting the war, though the number of such protests has dropped as the war has dragged on.
We have used the word “staggering” twice here already; it’s worth using a third time to describe the levels of Western military and financial aid delivered to Ukraine in the past year. The United States has never given so much military assistance to a nation that wasn’t home to U.S. forces fighting a war; one year in, the figure has eclipsed $100 billion. European Union contributions have totaled over $58 billion since last February.
The economies of Russia and Ukraine have suffered in different ways. Ukraine’s GDP took a 30 percent plunge in 2022; Russia’s 2022 losses were only 2.1 percent — a surprisingly low figure, for which the Russians have China, India and other trade partners to thank — and the Russian economy is actually expected to grow slightly in 2023. The good news for Ukraine in this area is that along with the military aid, there have also been robust efforts from the International Monetary Fund and several Western nations to provide relief.
Lastly, a data-driven note about the Ukrainian president. It’s believed that he has given roughly 350 addresses to his nation — one per day, almost — since the war began. In his efforts to win international support, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has spoken to more than three dozen houses of parliament, and on two occasions he has left his country — his December visit to Washington and this month’s European trip that took him to London, Paris and Brussels.
We offer a 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 8,000 (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 8,000, 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 21,000. (Updated Feb. 22; source, source, source.)
Ukrainian soldiers killed: at least 13,000
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, estimated in early December that as many as 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the war began. In early November, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, estimated that each side had seen about 100,000 soldiers killed or injured. More recently, on Jan. 22, Norwegian Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen also estimated the Ukrainian side to have over 100,000 personnel killed or injured. (Updated Jan. 25; source, source.)
Russian soldiers killed: between 5,937 and 145,000
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 145,000 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 Dmitry Peskov said in April that there had been “significant losses of troops, and it’s a huge tragedy for us.”
A report by Meduza, an independent Russian media outlet, and the Russian branch of the BBC confirmed at least 10,000 dead Russian soldiers as of Dec. 9, 2022.
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 eight to 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 Feb. 22; source.)
Total displaced Ukrainians: approximately 14 million
There are over 8 million Ukrainian refugees currently reported in other European countries. United Nations’ data indicates over 18 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 last year, the International Organization for Migration’s latest survey of internally displaced Ukrainians found more Ukrainians returning home from within Ukraine, but an estimated 5.4 million remained displaced within their own country. (Updated Feb. 22; source; source.)