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Putin Has a Big Problem Thanks to the Ukraine War He Can’t Solve

Russian TOS-1A in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The fighting in Ukraine continues, and with every passing day, Russian society suffers more. 

On day 438 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military continues to take heavy casualties on the ground. Meanwhile, Russia’s society and economy face their own struggles. 

Russian Casualties 

With a large-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive still in the works, Russian forces have started to lose more men. Their latest casualties add up to some terrifying numbers. 

The Russian military, the Wagner Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces have already suffered extremely heavy casualties over the past few months. Indeed, the large-scale offensive that the Kremlin launched in January came with a price tag of approximately 100,000 casualties (20,000 killed and 80,000 wounded), according to U.S. intelligence estimates. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 194,970 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 308 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 294 attack and transport helicopters; 3,730 tanks; 3,018 artillery pieces; 7,253 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 554 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 18 boats and cutters; 5,958 vehicles and fuel tanks; 306 anti-aircraft batteries; 2,614 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 384 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 947 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Russian Labor Shortages 

The negative effect that the war in Ukraine is having on Russia isn’t anything new. Alongside the Russian military, the country’s economy and society are suffering the consequences of President Vladimir Putin’s euphemistically labeled special military operation.

One of the ways that Russia is suffering from the war can be seen in its labor force — or better, in the lack thereof. 

Russia is almost certainly facing its worst labour shortage in decades. The Russian Central Bank surveyed 14,000 employers and found that the number of available employees was at its lowest level since 1998,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

Back in September, Putin ordered a partial mobilization of Russia’s reserves. All in all, the Russian military called up approximately 300,000 troops. But during the process, about 1 million military-aged males left the country to avoid the partial mobilization or any future draft. As a result of the war, the British Military Intelligence estimates that more than 1.3 million Russians, mostly young people, have left. 

The Russian labor shortage is due to a combination of the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, which hit the country hard. 

Some sectors are hit harder than others. For example, the Russian Ministry of Communications recently stated that about 100,000 information technology workers, or about 10% of the total IT workforce, left the country last year. 

“Mobilization, historically high emigration, and an aging and shrinking population is limiting the labor supply. This will likely lead to a reduction in the potential growth of the Russian economy and risks stoking inflation,” British Military Intelligence added.

The lack of manpower will also hamstring the Russian Ministry of Defense’s effort to grow the Russian military

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A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy, Cybersecurity, and Intelligence at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.