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Blood, Treasure and Chaos: A Look at the Cost of Russia’s War in Ukraine

Blood, Treasure and Chaos: A Look at the Cost of Russia’s War in Ukraine

By Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (Reuters) – Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has left tens of thousands of dead, displaced millions and spread economic strife across the world.

Following are the main impacts of the war, now in its ninth month:


The war has sown death on a level not seen in Europe since World War Two.

From Feb. 24 to Oct. 2, 6,114 civilians were reported killed and 9,132 injured, though the actual numbers are much higher, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Oct. 3.

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes,” OHCHR said.

Ukraine has not said how many of its soldiers have been killed. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Sept. 21 that 5,937 Russian soldiers had been killed since the start of the war.

Both Ukraine and Russia say the other side has sustained devastatingly high casualties. Reuters was unable to verify battlefield claims from either side.

The United States’ top general estimated on Nov. 9 that Russia and Ukraine had each seen more than 100,000 of their soldiers killed or wounded. “A lot of human suffering,” Army General Mark Milley told the Economic Club of New York.

Milley said the conflict so far had turned anywhere from 15 million to 30 million Ukrainians into refugees, and killed probably 40,000 Ukrainian civilians.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in 2014 after a pro-Russian president was toppled in Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution and Russia annexed Crimea, with Russian-backed separatist forces fighting Ukraine’s armed forces.

About 14,000 people were killed there between 2014 and the end of 2021, according to OHCHR, including 3,106 civilians.


Since Feb. 24, one third of Ukrainians have been forced from their homes, the largest current human displacement crisis in the world, the United Nations refugee agency has said. Ukraine has a population of more than 41 million.

There are currently more than 7.8 million refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe, with the biggest numbers in Poland, Russia and Germany, according to the agency’s data.


Besides the human losses, Ukraine has lost control of around 22% of its land to Russia since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, according to Reuters calculations.

It has lost a swathe of coastline, its economy has been crippled and some cities have been turned into wastelands by Russian shelling. Ukraine’s economy will contract by 45% in 2022, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have estimated.

The true dollar cost to Ukraine is unclear. It is unclear how much Ukraine has spent on fighting.


The war has been expensive for Russia too – though it does not disclose the costs which are state secrets.

Besides the military costs, the West has tried to punish Moscow by imposing severe sanctions – the biggest shock to Russia’s economy since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia’s central bank last month improved its GDP forecast for this year to a contraction of 3-3.5% from an expected 4-6% decline previously. In late April, it had expected GDP to shrink 8-10%.

The economy ministry sees a contraction of 2.9% this year and a 0.8% fall in 2023.

Still the impact on Russia’s economy is severe – and not yet fully clear. It has been excluded from Western financial markets, most of its oligarchs are sanctioned, and it is experiencing problems sourcing some items such as microchips.

Russia has defaulted on its foreign bonds for the first time since the calamitous months following the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

The central bank has cautioned that the partial mobilisation could stoke longer-term inflation. The central bank tweaked its year-end inflation forecast to 12-13% from 11-13%.


The invasion and Western sanctions on Russia led to steep rises in the prices of fertiliser, wheat, metals and energy, feeding into both a brewing food crisis and an inflationary wave that is crashing through the global economy.

Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas, wheat, nitrogen fertiliser and palladium. Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, international oil prices spiked to their highest levels since the records of 2008.

Attempts to reduce reliance on Russian oil, gas and oil products – or even to cap their prices – have exacerbated what is already the most severe energy crunch since the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s.

The war has cut global growth while an energy crisis in Europe could tip Europe into a deeper crisis, according to Goldman Sachs which expects global GDP growth to slow to 1.8% in 2023.


The United States has provided more than $18.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Feb. 24 including stinger anti-aircraft systems, Javelin anti-armour systems, 155mm Howitzers and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear protective equipment.

In total, about 52 billion euros in military, financial and humanitarian aid had been pledged by Oct. 3 to Ukraine by countries around the world, according to The Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

Russia says that the West’s supplies of advanced weapons to Ukraine are finding their way onto the black market and then into the hands of extremist and criminal groups in the Middle East, central Africa and Asia.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Gareth Jones and Andrew Heavens)

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