Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The Embassy

The War Between Ukraine and Russia: What Statistics Can Tell Us

M1 Abrams NATO
M1 Abrams Tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Now that Western countries have agreed to supply Ukraine with offensive weapons, it seems a good time to review the statistics and dynamics of the Russo-Ukraine war thus far. A review might indicate what could be expected in the coming spring as the two sides prepare for a possibly decisive showdown, and it might also suggest appropriate Western policy measures.

The first question concerns statistics, their reliability, and what they might mean. Oryx, a Dutch organization using open sources, counts as evidence only those losses of equipment that are confirmed by photographic or video evidence. Thus as of Feb. 9, Oryx recorded that Russian losses of heavy equipment of all types were nearly 9,100 versus 2,934 for the Ukrainians.

While recognizing that these figures greatly understate actual losses, it is notable that the losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) were about one-third of Russian losses across most categories. This occurred even though AFU weaponry was comparatively poor — especially its artillery, which had a shorter range than its Russian counterparts and vastly less ammunition. The large majority of Russian tanks were destroyed by artillery, not by the famous Javelins, NLAWS, and Gustavs. Ukrainian-made anti-tank rockets and artillery lasted for four months, which meant that the eviction of the Russian army from the northern regions of Ukraine in the initial stages of the war was achieved mostly with domestic resources.

Plausible Devastation

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported that as of Feb. 9, 135,010 Russian soldiers had been killed and probably more than that number wounded. This is after a force of 190,000 was initially sent. Russian tank losses by that date were measured at 3,255 — 1,200 were originally sent; losses of armored vehicles, totaled 6,468 compared to an initial 2,900; of artillery, 2,244, when 1,600 pieces were initially deployed; airplanes losses totaled 295, while 330 were put into combat initially; and 285 helicopters were lost, after 240 were deployed in the initial invasion. (Those numbers will likely change further by the time this piece is published.) Western estimates were initially lower but have tended to converge toward the Ukrainian Ministry’s figures.

It can be inferred that the figures for personnel killed are broadly valid because of the political context, namely the enormous pressure placed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on his generals. He has replaced the supreme commander of the Russian army several times for failing to meet his objectives. Each commander has been indifferent to human losses, in line with a Czarist and Soviet tradition that says objectives are to be achieved according to political directives, not military good practice. In other words, the Ministry’s statistics are plausible because the situation required losses of the reported scale to stop the determined Russian army.

Essentially, the AFU destroyed the best of the Russian equipment and professional contract soldiers by using its own poorest resources. With the addition of the modern weapons now promised to Ukraine, it would seem that the AFU ais in a favorable position.

Unfortunately for the AFU, however, that is too hasty a conclusion, considering the characteristics of the Russian army.

No Limits

The biggest Russian advantage is virtually unlimited manpower. The statistical imprint of losses on Russian society is negligible. But the social imprint is likewise small, because much of the fighting and dying on the Russian Federation’s side has been done by Asians and Caucasians, as well as by ethnic-Russian social marginals from the economically impoverished peripheries of Russia.

Stated plainly, Russian middle class urban society does not have much concern for the social marginals of its country, and Putin has decided that it is politically safe to proceed with large-scale recruitment.

One assumption is that soldiers are killed or wounded in proportion to equipment destroyed. In that case the Ukrainian-to-Russian loss ratio would be 1:3, as would seem to follow from Oryx figures. But whereas Russian officers expend their men copiously under political pressure, Ukrainian officers economize losses through better tactics. The AFU try to avoid set-piece battles against Russian artillery and armor. They emphasize mobility and surprise, executing a sort of guerrilla warfare with heavy weapons.

According to Ukrainian statistics in this regard, it is likely that the loss ratio is significantly higher. The spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Southern Military District said that the eviction of the Russians from the right bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region was achieved with a 1:6 ratio, which seems plausible considering the AFU’s mobile tactics and the fact that by then, the AFU had Western artillery of greater range and accuracy than what the Russians employed.

Several Ukrainian military experts concur that in the Donbas towns of Bakhmut and nearby Soledar, which are geographically very well suited for defense, the loss ratio in battles has ranged between 1:5 and 1:10.

But as astonishing as the performance of the AFU appears to be, additional statistics tell a different story. Currently, in Ukraine, there are probably more than 300,000 Russian soldiers of various kinds. Ukrainian military experts think that as Russian mobilizations are ramped up, Moscow will be able to train 100,000 infantrymen to a basic standard each month. (Specialists and equipment operators take longer.)

According to Ministry of Defense statistics, Ukraine’s armed forces had a record month in January, killing more than 20,000 Russian personnel. If an equal number were seriously wounded, this comprises a monthly loss of 40,000.

The dilemma for the AFU becomes strikingly obvious here, because despite high losses, the Russian army could grow each month by 60,000 personnel. If the Russian mobilization goes smoothly, then in six months a net of 360,000 new recruits would augment the 300,000 who are already in Ukraine. The task of Ukrainian troops threatens to be daunting.

Whose Morale?

Further, too much is made of the supposedly low morale of the Russian troops. The favored Russian tactic is to send out a wave of amnestied convicts to identify the AFU positions and draw the Ukrainians’ fire. The newly mobilized social marginals come next, and, if necessary, are kept from retreating by so-called barrier units of the National Guard or Kadyrovite Chechens. Finally come the husbanded and better-motivated professionals, who try to exploit openings. This is a costly method of fighting, but it is effective at making incremental territorial gains. In the recent actions at Soledar, where the Wagner Private Company spearheaded the Russian advance, the Wagnerites experienced losses on the order of 70% or more, but they eventually captured the town. In sum, the ability of the Russian military machine to keep pushing in the face of high losses is very impressive.

Given such a picture, it is an open question whether the AFU will be able to contain the Russian forces, even if heavy equipment arrives in the promised quantities. The main Russian effort is likely to come in the Donbas region, since the complete occupation of the Donbas is Putin’s minimal political goal of long-standing.

In such a scenario, the AFU would have to shift the bulk of their forces eastward to contain the Russian offensive there. This might mean that the Ukrainians would have to abandon their cherished plan for an offensive in the south and for cutting the Russian land bridge to Crimea. Consequently, Russia could gain all of the Donbas and retain the south and Crimea. It would be win-win for Putin, who would emerge triumphant.

If all that has been described above is roughly valid, what does this imply for Western policy? Two opposite lines of reasoning point to the same conclusion. One line of reasoning is that the AFU have always done well, even with poor resources, and should be supported with more heavy weapons because they have a real chance to de-occupy all territories.

The opposite line is that protests over war losses will not transpire in Russia and that Moscow’s potential to mobilize troops is practically limitless, not to consider also the potential of Russia’s industry. Consequently, the AFU could be in serious danger of losing the war.

In either scenario, the appropriate Western policy is one of maximal supply of heavy military equipment for Ukraine.

BONUS: A Nuclear War over Ukraine

BONUS: Donald Trump Looks Desperate 

Opinion Author Biography and Expertise: 

Dennis Soltys is a retired Canadian professor of comparative politics living in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Written By

Dennis Soltys is a retired Canadian professor of comparative politics living in Almaty.



  1. 403Forbidden

    February 13, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    Reported losses in war are highly subjective and compounded by the fog of war with many reports highly biased while real facts get ignored or suppressed.

    But back to ukro fighting in donbass. Some latest reports say ukro fighters are preparing to evacuate bakhmut but others allege that ukro commanders are confident it will never fall.

    Bakhmut is impregnable. But what about the increasing casualties among the ukro forces or defenders.

    Who’s losing the battle. The beancounters or the attackers.

  2. TheDon

    February 13, 2023 at 6:51 pm

    Both are losing.
    No stategic gain for Russia or improved security.
    The Russian general should act. The EU and neighbors are not a threat.
    Trade and grow.

  3. Jacksonian Libertarian

    February 13, 2023 at 8:37 pm

    The belief that Russia has unlimited manpower is wrong. Exhaustion is building as Russia runs out of convicts, military equipment, and willing conscripts. Ukraine on the other hand, while it has lost many civilians, is losing troops at a much lower rate, and the Ukrainian Army is much larger (600k+) and medically better served than assumed. What is more, the Ukrainian Army is a Veteran force growing more lethal as time goes on, as the arrival of superior western weapons are leveraged against Russian conscripts (cannon fodder), and obsolete Soviet era weapons.

    The statement that morale is immaterial to Russian military power is also wrong. Being used as mine detectors, bait, and cannon fodder, while being armed to kill, is a recipe for revolt. There is a huge difference between a soldier eager to take advantage of targets of opportunity, and cannon fodder looking to hide or shoot the security troops behind them.

    Napoléon said “Morale is to material as 3 to 1”

    The report that most Russian tanks are killed with artillery is also wrong. It isn’t possible to tell from photos whether an armored vehicle was destroyed by artillery or top attack munitions like Javelin, NLAW, Hellfire, etc., all we know is that they aren’t getting destroyed by dumb tank guns. We also know that armored vehicles have never been destroyed in such numbers by artillery before, so why would it happen now? And while some guided artillery rounds are laser guided (0.5m), most are the less accurate (3.0m) GPS + Inertial guided that are lucky to hit a vehicle sized target, even if given accurate coordinates. Dumb artillery is an AOE weapon, good at turning forests into toothpicks and farm fields into moonscapes, but little else (500+ rounds per casualty, 2,000+ per killed).

    Finally, you don’t get kill ratios of 5-10 to 1 by accident, but by having significant Strategic Advantages. Logistics, interior lines, defensive fortifications, superior weapons, veteran soldiers, high morale, trusted leadership, etc. Ukraine’s 44 million population vs. Russia’s 142 million population is a 3.22 to 1 ratio. Those numbers say Russia will lose, and the breaking/culmination point is closer than most think.

  4. YS

    February 13, 2023 at 8:39 pm

    Denazification is not a game of chess. The goals stand as long as random shelling of civilians continues in Donbass.

    EU is not a threat for as long as there’re no official troops on ukrainian soil. Resupplying advanced weapons is pushing it, but it was going on for last 9 years, so for all intended purposes it’s “business as usual”.

    “assume nothing question everything”

  5. John R. Shanahan

    February 13, 2023 at 10:30 pm

    Thank you for pointing out the necessity of continued and increased support. A Ukranian victory is morally right. A Russian defeat is sadly a necessity to stop Russian imperialism and convince other authoritarian governments to not go down the same path.

    Ukrainians should have started training on Western tanks and aircraft soon after they proved their willingness and ability to fight in the opening phase of the wider war. The West has been too cautious. The slow pace of Western military aid and the artificial restrictions placed on that aid have prolonged the conflict increasing the human and material costs of the war both inside and outside of Ukraine.

  6. TMark

    February 14, 2023 at 12:22 am

    Other statistics:

    1. With Finland joining NATO, the alliance’s border with Russia is about to triple.

    2. With the G-7’s price cap ($60/bbl) on Russian tanker-shipped oil proving remarkably effective, Russia’s monthly oil revenues have been cut in half.

    3. If Europe’s only superpower can’t take Europe’s poorest country despite bordering it, then Europe no longer fears Russia’s ‘legendary’ army and can consider reducing the NATO standard 2% of GDP for defense to 1.5%. Long-term this may compensate for the West’s full military and humanitarian support to Ukraine.

    These examples and others prove most of Russia’s losses are far from the battlefield. They will become more profound when Russia tries to negotiate an endgame and discovers their new borders come with no trading partners, with rusting gas and oil pipelines, ongoing sanctions, a shrinking population, a Stone Age economy, lower standard of living, subservience to Beijing, continued exclusion from summits and forums, and no future.

  7. Serhio

    February 14, 2023 at 4:29 am

    Ukraine’s losses are so small that the Ukrainian military grabs people on the streets and hands them summonses, and cemeteries with black-and-red (Nazi) and yellow-and-blue flags stretch for distances exceeding one mile in one place.

  8. matveyer

    February 14, 2023 at 6:09 am

    deceive yourself further. This self-deception is very beneficial to Russia

  9. Oakhill1863

    February 14, 2023 at 8:20 am

    This article posits a 70% kill rate of the original 190,000 Russian troops, which would surely amount to a 100% casualty rate since wounded soldiers generally are greater than dead ones and if 70% died, that couldn’t happen. While the claimed dead are not necessarily the initial 190,000 force, it is the article itself that connects those two numbers.

    It is true that the Russians are having trouble. Otherwise, per the U.S. military analysis, they would have been in Kiev in a few days after the initiation of hostilities and Biden have given Zelensky a ride to some oceanside villa in Delaware. So, the failure to take Kiev is a fact. These casualty statistics may be the truth, they may only be troothy, or possibly fantasy.

    I have no counter-facts, not running a government or even a mercenary organization. However, since they seem to indicate the Ukrainians are achieving a new Cannae every day, and such victories are rare—hence Cannae’s long-lasting fame, not to mention the victors were led by a general of some repute leading professional soldiers, not rag-tag (though brave) beginners—the statistics in this article seem unlikely.

  10. Fred Wild

    February 14, 2023 at 9:10 am

    This largely ignores the logistics element. If Russia adds 60,000 men each month, it must feed, shelter, supply, and equip 60,000 more men each month. Ukraine has proven adept at disrupting Russian supply lines. Russia’s army may starve in Ukraine.

  11. Malik Zakari

    February 14, 2023 at 10:06 am

    I will like to disagree with this article. Firstly the notion that asian & caucasian elements of the Russian forces are taking the brunt of casualties is preposterous. Russian forces casualties are mostly military pros, therefore slavs mostly man the Russian professional forces & therefore the casualties are majority theirs. Secondly how can you claim that 150k KIA RF military KIA against deployed 190k, if that is true then RF forces would have withdrawn from all pre February 22 borders. Thirdly your claim on military equipment losses is unreasonable. Fourtly, Kherson counter offensive 1-6 ratio is also ridiculous. RF withdrew 30k troops & all its equipment from Kherson city without substantial combat with Ukrainian forces.

  12. oakhill1863

    February 14, 2023 at 10:23 am

    Maybe the culmination point is about to be reached. On the other hand, Simon Saradzhyan wrote an article for Russia Matters last year identifying 16 articles that had so predicted going back to March, 2022. Sometimes, it’s a long time culminating.

  13. Cheburator

    February 14, 2023 at 11:19 am

    The greatest strength of Ukrainian politicians is to lie without blushing.
    Mossad calls the figures for Russia’s losses at 40 thousand, Ukraine’s losses are closer to 250. The same figure is voiced by Turkey.

  14. Jim

    February 14, 2023 at 12:58 pm

    This article is a one-sided piece of propaganda.

    And Ukraine supporters drink it like Jim Jones’ Kool-aid… thirsty men crawling to an oasis from the desert, actually a mirage.

    But for the Kool-aid drinkers nothing will change their minds.

    Only facts on the ground, territory & cities changing hands will wake these people from their wishful thinking.

    Remember, it’s always harder to convince someone they’ve been duped, than to dupe them in the first place… and these peoples’ desires for a Ukraine victory makes them especially vulnerable to propaganda which fulfills those desires.

    … desperate to consummate their hunger for victory…

    Facts on the ground are the only reliable tale of the tape… in situations like this where people’s emotional desires overwhelm cool, calculating reason & logic… or they are willing to lie, to keep the dream alive.

  15. Paul Hoffman

    February 14, 2023 at 3:16 pm

    Note to the author…the Winter offensive has already started

  16. Roger Bacon

    February 14, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    Even if Russia can draft 100,000 soldiers a month, can they supply and equip them?

  17. Malik Zakari

    February 14, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    Western analysts always like to portray Ukraine as outnumbered & outgunned 1000times over. Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, has the second largest army in Europe. Before the war Ukraine possessed the second most tanks and IFV & APCS to Russia. Of course RF blunder in their approach to this was is incompetent but still they performed very well in some theatres especially in late February in the Southern oblasts. This war is more akin to the US invading Mexico in 2023 and expecting to capture Mexico city in 1 day. Us military might is a million up over Mexico, compared to Russia Vs Ukraine. Pro Western & Ukrainian analysts should be more reasonable in their discussions on this war. Currently the RF ground forces active is around 350k regular, I don’t think more than 80k are on Ukrainian territory yet. While Ukraine has around 900k active & if not engaging right now are minutes ready to engage.

  18. Malik Zakari

    February 14, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    In order for RF to have captured Kiev & Kharkov early on they needed to muster around atleast 1 million troops. They only invaded with less than 200k again an army of 900k that was trained and preparing for the invasion for the last 8 years

  19. Steve

    February 14, 2023 at 6:16 pm

    The Internet is full of videos of Russian soldiers & their families complaining of troops being sent to the front with little or no training, inadequate equipment & supplies, ineffective leadership, and enduring high casualties. Russia has lost the major battles for Kiev, Kharkiv, and northern Kherson, while making only minor advances at enormous cost in Bakmut and a few other places.

    The Russian trolls ignore all this, much to their discredit. Perhaps the new offensive will reverse their fortunes, but the past year suggests that Russia is a thoroughly corrupt country that is unable to field a modern army capable of resisting a determined, adequately supplied & led foe.

  20. Serhio

    February 14, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    “2. With the G-7’s price cap ($60/bbl) on Russian tanker-shipped oil proving remarkably effective, Russia’s monthly oil revenues have been cut in half.”

    This is false propaganda. Previously , the price of the Russian URALS variety was calculated using the formula: Price in Russia+insurance+average freight cost to the ports of Rotterdam or August. And the URALS variety has always been traded at a discount from BRENT, because there is more sulfur in it, which means a little more processing costs. Since Russian oil is no longer supplied to Europe, it has become pointless to publish a price calculation with delivery to Europe. What is now being passed off as a “great victory of democracy” over Russian oil is actually a consequence of the fact that since November 2022, the new formula looks like this: the announced price for the URALS grade = the price of Russian oil in Russian ports. Thus, Russian oil is sold at a discount of about $ 10 per barrel. Add to this price the cost of insurance and freight and you will understand that the price of Russian oil for the end consumer is much higher than the price that journalists love to write about when they write attractive headlines like “Putin is ruined, he sells his oil at a discount of $ 30 per barrel”, “Putin is running out of money because the Russian oil has fallen catastrophically in price.” That’s all you need to know about modern journalism. They may not lie (although they often lie), but they also do not tell the whole truth, which means they impose a certain point of view on everyone.

  21. Walker

    February 14, 2023 at 9:17 pm

    The population of Russia is just a bit over three times the population of Ukraine. But Ukraine is fighting for its survival. So it probably safer to say Russia can only produce about twice as many troops as Ukraine. Which means that Russia must maintain at least a 50% kill ratio or in other words must kill at least one soldier for every 2 they lose in order to win. That should be pretty easy in most wars, but word is coming in that in Vuhledar that Russians are fighting like morons and the loss rate is close to 17 Russians per Ukrainian. This is not going the way Russia needs it to go. They better hope that Ukraine has their people spread so thin that they can still swamp the place.

  22. Malik Zakari

    February 15, 2023 at 5:40 am

    Steve, So also Ukrainian trolls ignoring videos of Ukrainian men grabbed on streets and forced to enlist when they don’t want to. Russia only partially mobilised while Ukraine mobilised completely.

  23. Neofeudalfuture

    February 15, 2023 at 10:30 am

    Ukraine has not killed 135 out of 190 initial invaders. The war would be over by now russia would’ve lost everything.

    Losses are high but this article can’t be serious.

  24. Serhio

    February 15, 2023 at 9:04 pm


    “The population of Russia is just a bit over three times the population of Ukraine. But Ukraine is fighting for its survival. So it probably safer to say Russia can only produce about twice as many troops as Ukraine. Which means that Russia must maintain at least a 50% kill ratio or in other words must kill at least one soldier for every 2 they lose in order to win. That should be pretty easy in most wars, but word is coming in that in Vuhledar that Russians are fighting like morons and the loss rate is close to 17 Russians per Ukrainian. This is not going the way Russia needs it to go. They better hope that Ukraine has their people spread so thin that they can still swamp the place.”

    Why do you feel sorry for these aggressive Russians??? Write next time not 17, but 25. Or better 30. No one is going to check.

  25. from Russia with love

    February 16, 2023 at 4:30 am

    I’m wondering if everyone in the USA is so stupid that they still believe in “live wave tactics”? ???? why does the author write this nonsense? Is he dumb or does he think his audience is dumb? the tactics of “live waves” and barrage detachments showed their inoperability back in the First World War when the British put behind their units barrage detachments recruited in the colonies from those who were happy to shoot shrapnel from cannons at the native British. it didn’t work back then. Are you composing this nonsense to somehow explain your thesis that Putin is a monster?????
    if someone believes in the nonsense that the author wrote, then try to explain why the hectares of cemeteries are growing in Ukraine, but not in Russia, and why a special decree on toughening discipline at the front and allowing executions for non-compliance with the order is signed by Zelensky, but not by Putin.????‍♂️

  26. Yrral

    February 16, 2023 at 7:15 am

    Russian have started using their supersonic missile,which had devastating consequences last night, Ukrainain only shot down mostly old Soviet missiles,but the KH22 had a 100 percent kill rate in latest attack Google New Voice Ukraine

  27. Simon Beerstecher

    February 16, 2023 at 9:22 am

    Simple Russia has meat to spare,but not hardware,destroy the hardware that takes a lot longer to replenish.Without hardware the meat cannot survive no matter how many kg’s Russia throws into Ukraine.

  28. ATM

    February 16, 2023 at 11:12 am

    Government statistics are pure propaganda in time of war. Everyone wants to make their side look good. One thing that is hard to fake are artillery rounds fired.

    1.) This conflict is fought primarily as artillery, light armored and infantry war.

    2.) Russian artillery has greater range

    3.) And 6 times the rate of fire.

    Given these facts it is hard to imagine that Russia is loosing more troops and equipment than the Ukrainians. But who knows, perhaps Russian artillery is shooting completely out of the park and Ukrainian arty is near perfect.

  29. ATM

    February 16, 2023 at 12:09 pm

    Further rational assessment:

    Simple common sense statistics:

    If Ukraine has a 10 to 1 casualty ratio they would have never needed more NATO supplies in the first place.

    And given that the US per Gen Mark Milley 10 November 2022 estimates 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers are killed or injured that would mean that more than a 1,000,000,000 Russians are killed or injured …..????

  30. Walker

    February 16, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    Serhio, I was quoting a Ukrainian soldier in Vohledar when I said 17 to 1. I can’t change someone’s quote. But it seems to be in the right ballpark based on Russian win at any means while not caring about its troops.

    Whether it is 17 to 1, or whatever it is, doesn’t really matter. The truth of what I said is still clear. Russia can not win. Gen Miley is correct. Russia already lost. It just can’t stop fighting. It has to keep going until it is completely spent. What happens when it is all spent? It implodes. That is what will happen. The question is just when. Miley thinks that is still a while off. He might be right. since the Russian spring offensive is a complete dud, it depends now on Ukraine. Did the west give them enough arms to start an effective large scale campaign or will their offensive be as big of dud as Russia’s. We will see in a month or two when the mud dries out.

  31. Serhio

    February 16, 2023 at 9:22 pm

    “Serhio, I was quoting a Ukrainian soldier in Vohledar when I said 17 to 1. I can’t change someone’s quote. But it seems to be in the right ballpark based on Russian win at any means while not caring about its troops.”

    God did not give man reason so that man would blindly repeat any nonsense he heard. To do this, it would be enough for God to create a parrot. If you were not taught to use your own brain at school, then why declare it to the whole world?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *