One Year Later: The Cost of the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

World Today

At dawn on February 24, 2022, the Russian armed forces launched what they called a special military operation seeking to “demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.”

The Russian military began an offensive with heavy ground assaults in several regions of the country, seizing a number of areas north of Kyiv, including the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

For months, the world watched what would become Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II, as thousands of combatants on both sides wrestled for control of territories that were once part of the Soviet Union.

The conflict has since dragged out for a year, and many countries are feeling its effects – especially the two nations directly involved.

Human Cost of Conflict

While the conflict has cost both Ukraine and Russia economically, it has also taken a toll on their populations.

The UK’s Defense Ministry says as many as 60,000 Russian troops have been killed.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Kremlin to insulate the population from the war in Ukraine,” according to British defense officials. “A December 2022 Russian poll reported that 52% had either a friend or relative who had served in the so-called Special Military Operation.”

Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has painted an even grimmer picture, stating that both the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces have each suffered up to 100,000 casualties.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 18,955 civilian casualties in Ukraine over the past year: 7,199 killed and 11,756 injured. 

More than 8 million people have fled the country, and 5.4 million internally displaced.

More than two million Ukrainian refugees have been sent to Russia, according to Ukrainian and Russian officials. Ukraine says these are forced transfers. Russia calls them humanitarian evacuations. Poland has received 1.5 million refugees and Germany just over a million.

Foreign military aid has been pouring into Ukraine.

The U.S. and its allies have provided more than $60 billion in military assistance.

Financial Cost of Conflict

The military operation has been costly for Ukraine.

Inflation has quadrupled since January 2021 when it was 6.1 percent. Last month, it was 26 percent.

Ukraine has become heavily reliant on imports. In December 2022, the country reported a trade gap of $2.7 billion.

For Russia, the conflict has also been difficult.The country’s budget deficit hit a record $24.4 billion in January…. and revenues declined by more than a third over the previous year.

2023 is not expected to get any better for the Russian economy. The World Bank has forecast that in a worst-case scenario Russia’s GDP could decline by as much as 5.6%.