Calculating the costs of war
By Alan Yuhas
Day after day for 181 days, the grim ledger of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grows longer with each missile strike, burst of gunfire and report of atrocities.
— Ukrainian civilians have paid a heavy price: 5,587 are confirmed dead, and the true number is believed to be in the tens of thousands. The number of refugees has surpassed 6.6 million.
— Military losses have been heavy on both sides, with about 9,000 Ukrainians and as many as 25,000 Russians said to be killed.
— Ukraine has lost control of 20% of its territory to Russian forces and their proxies in recent years.
— The destruction has already cost Ukraine at least $113.5 billion, and it may need more than $200 billion to rebuild.
— Donor nations have pledged to give Ukraine more than $83 billion in total.
— Ukrainian agricultural production, and other countries that depend on it, have been hit hard. Even with grain ships on the move again, the world hunger crisis is dire.
THE TOLL ON CIVILIANS
On Monday, the United Nations reported that it had confirmed the deaths of 5,587 civilians, including 149 girls, 175 boys and 38 children whose sex is unknown. At least 7,890 civilians were confirmed to be injured, it said.
But those are only the confirmed civilian casualties. The true numbers, U.N. officials concede, are without doubt far higher.
The actual toll is probably tens of thousands of civilians. That is the estimate Ukrainian officials have arrived at after months of recovering bodies.
In Bucha, near the capital, residents are still burying the roughly 400 civilians killed during a month of Russian occupation. At least 1,500 civilians were killed in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, during Russia’s failed attack, according to Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s chief of police.
And in Mariupol, the southern city pulverized by months of Russian siege, Ukrainian officials believe that at least 22,000 people were killed. They cite witness accounts, satellite imagery of mass graves and footage showing bodies in the streets.
THE MILITARY CASUALTIES
Russia and Ukraine have kept their military casualties a closely guarded secret, though Western analysts believe both have sustained heavy losses.
Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the top commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Monday that about 9,000 Ukrainians had been killed at the front. Speaking at a conference for veterans, he did not say whether that included all branches of Ukraine’s military; the number could not be independently verified. In comparison, in the eight-year conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed forces, around 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians were killed.
Russia last gave an official military toll in March, when it said that 1,351 of its troops had been killed. At the time, U.S. officials estimated the figure to be around 5,000.
Four months later, the British military estimated that 25,000 Russians had been killed and tens of thousands more wounded. And this month, Pentagon officials estimated that 70,000 to 80,000 Russians have been killed or wounded; they put the number of deaths at 20,000. U.S. officials said their estimates were based on satellite imagery, communication intercepts, social media and on-the-ground media reports.
Before the full-scale invasion, the Russian military had about 900,000 active-duty troops. British officials estimated that the initial invasion force had about 300,000 troops, including support units. U.S. defense officials say Russia has committed nearly 85% of its fielded army to the war.
REFUGEES AND DISPLACED PEOPLE
More than 6.6 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe, according to the United Nations’ latest estimate. Of those, more than 3.8 million people have registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe.
Within Ukraine, roughly 7 million people have been displaced internally, U.N. officials estimate. About 13 million are stranded or unable to escape contested ground because of fighting, ruined bridges and roads, and a lack of resources.
THE HOMES, TOWNS AND CITIES DESTROYED
Russian shelling and missile strikes across Ukraine have destroyed more than 130,000 buildings since February, according to research by the Kyiv School of Economics, drawing on information from Ukrainian government ministries.
Since February, 311 bridges have been damaged or destroyed; 188,000 private cars have been damaged, destroyed or seized; and more than 15,400 miles of road damaged or destroyed.
The range of buildings that have been damaged, destroyed or seized is vast, the researchers reported: at least 115,000 private houses and 15,000 apartments; 2,290 educational facilities, including 798 kindergartens; 1,991 shops and 27 shopping centers; 934 health care facilities and 715 cultural facilities; 511 administrative buildings, 28 oil depots and 18 civilian airports.
Years before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, Russia had illegally annexed Crimea and propped up separatist fighters who occupied about 6,500 square miles of eastern Ukraine: two regions totaling about 7% of Ukraine’s 233,000 square miles.
Now, Ukrainian officials say, Russia has taken control of about 20% of its territory, including all of Luhansk province in the east and most of the Kherson region in the south.
THE COST FOR UKRAINE
As of Monday, the Kyiv School of Economics estimated, the damage to Ukraine’s economy from the destruction of buildings and infrastructure amounted to $113.5 billion. The researchers estimated the minimum money needed for recovery is almost $200 billion.
The Ukrainian government has estimated that it needs $5 billion a month to keep essential services and its battered economy running — a figure likely to increase in the fall and winter — and eventually a total of $750 billion for recovery.
AN OUTPOURING OF AID
The United States has pledged more than $54 billion in overall aid to Ukraine, the most of any nation. Since Feb. 24, the Biden administration has provided more than $9.9 billion in military assistance, the State Department says. That includes dozens of armored vehicles and artillery systems, tens of thousands of shells and 16 HIMARS launchers, an advanced rocket system that Western analysts believe is helping Ukraine disrupt Russian supply lines.
Britain has pledged the second-most military aid, totaling $4 billion, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which has been tracking aid since the war began. That is followed by European Union institutions ($2.5 billion), Poland ($1.8 billion) and Germany ($1.2 billion).
According to the Kiel researchers, EU institutions have pledged the most financial assistance to Ukraine at $12.3 billion, followed by the United States ($10.3 billion), Britain ($2.1 billion), Canada ($1.8 billion) and Germany ($1.15 billion). The U.S. aid includes $8.5 billion in direct budgetary support to Ukraine’s government that has been disbursed in installments; it has also provided more than $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and the region.
In all, donor nations have committed more than $83 billion in aid to Ukraine.
But Christoph Trebesch, an economist at the Kiel Institute, said money was reaching Ukraine “very slowly,” a sign of the political disagreements in Europe.
“Sending multiple rocket launchers is hard. Sending money is much easier,” he said. “The monetary side shows that it has a lot to do with political will and things being dragged out.”
THE GRAIN CRISIS
The war will cost Ukraine’s farmers and agribusiness companies $23 billion in lost profits, destroyed equipment and transportation costs, according to Ukrainian studies. Ukraine’s wheat exports, worth $5.1 billion last year, will fall by nearly half after this year’s harvest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast.
Ukrainian officials estimate that Russia’s Black Sea blockade trapped about 20 million tons of grain for months.
Starting this month, more than 30 cargo ships will set out from Black Sea ports carrying 721,449 metric tons of foodstuffs under a deal mediated by Turkey and endorsed by the U.N., a spokeswoman for the initiative said Monday.
In mid-August, the first chartered ship departed toward a hunger-stricken part of Africa, carrying 23,000 metric tons of wheat.
But regions like the Horn of Africa need vastly more food supplies. As many as 50 million people in 45 countries are on the brink of famine, according to the U.N.’s World Food Program. As many as 828 million people were undernourished last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated.