The Russo-Ukrainian War – Day 699

I am back to blogging about the war in Ukraine. My last blog post was in October: The Russo-Ukrainian War – Day 589 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). I also did a few blog posts about the war between Hamas and Israel: Hamas-Israeli War – Day 3 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). I then got overwhelmed with 1) travel, 2) conferences (The Schedule for the Second Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 17 – 19 October 2023 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)), 3) presentations, 4) planning (The Third HAAC – October 2024? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)), 5) marketing (Are we the world leader in military historical analysis? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and The History of the DuWar Data Bases | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)) and 6) working on finishing books. There are a finite number of hours in a day.

Anyhow, I did not blog about the lastest Battle of Avdiivka (10 October to present), which was the big story between Day 589 until the end of the year. I gather this Russian attack and stalled out and quieted down. The Wikipedia post is here on subject: Battle of Avdiivka (2022–present) – Wikipedia. My knowledge of the subject does not exceed that, as I simply have not had time to pay attention to it.

I have gotten my book The Battle for Kyiv out, I have been done the (hopefully) final edits on Aces at Kursk. Our current publication schedule is here: Current book release schedule | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). I do not know if they are going to release Aces at Kursk by 30 January, but I gather it will be soon.

Anyhow, let’s talk about Ukraine:

Forces involved:

I have been for a while guestimating that both sides had 300,000 to 400,000 regular forces deployed in the field. Recently Russia (Putin specifically) claimed 617,000 in the combat zone. Ukraine counter-claimed that Russian only had 450,000. They have been various claims over times that Ukraine has 700,000 or more forces activated. There is a difference apparently between “activated” and on or near the front line. I have suspected for a while that both sides had roughly equal forces deployed, because if that was not the case, someone would be advancing. We have not seen a lot of advancing for over a year, since November 2022.

Casualties:

There are lots of casualty figures out there. There appears to be almost no factual or analytical basis for most of these figures. Some are absurd (like the Ukrainian claims of Russian losses or the Russian claims of Ukrainian losses). Some of the estimates from various intelligence agencies sometimes also seem high. While lots of people seem willing to hang their hats on these estimates, we actually have no idea how they are constructed and what they are based upon. They might be based upon solid data, or they might not. The intelligences communities have a mixed record. My last discussion on casualties is here: Total Casualties in Ukraine according to CBC | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

Here is what we know:

  1. Last Russian report: 5,937 as of 21 September 2022.
  2. Last DPR count (not estimate): 4,176 dead end of 2022
  3. Last LPR report: 500-600 killed as of April 2022.
  4. Last Ukrainian report: almost 9,000 military (21 August 2022) or 10,000 – 13,000 (1 December 2022).
    1. Detailed discussion of this report is here: The Russo-Ukrainian War – Day 560 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)
  5.  Current Russian casualty count from Mediazona: 42,284 as of 19 January 2024.
  6. Current Ukrainian casualty count by name from the Book of Remembrance of the Fallen for Ukraine (24 February 2022 to August 2023): 22,233 as of the end of August 2023 (Mediazona count as of 24 August 2023 was 30,698).

Wounded-to-killed ratios are at least 4-to-1. They may be higher. There are claims that the Wagner Group had only a 2-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio. This probably does not apply to the entire Russian Army. Some light reading on the subject of wounded-to-killed ratios: Wounded-To-Killed Ratios | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and Wounded-to-killed ratios in Ukraine in 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). It is also worth while taking a look at Chapter 15 of my book War by Numbers. Wounded-to-killed ratios is heavily dependent on the nature of combat, with a lot of direct fire engagements generating lower ratios while a lot of artillery generates higher ratios. The war has been very driven by artillery fire for most of the last year. Again, look at my book.

Now, not all wounded are seriously wounded. Some wounded are effectively incapacitated, some may recover to be functional but can no longer serve in the military, some are seriously wounded but given enough time can return to duty, some are lightly wounded and will returned to duty within days or weeks, and some are so lightly wounded that they will return to duty within days or that same day. This last group is the carded for record only category used by the U.S. Army in WWII and the Vietnam War. They are usually not counted in wounded statistics (although the USMC does). I may blog in more depth about this later. In the meantime see: Return-to-Duty (RTDs) | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and Carded-for-Record in WWII | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Anyhow, the Mediazona is an undercount of Russian casualties. By their own admission in an exchange with them, they say they estimate that their undercount is a factor of two. If that is the case, the Russian casualties can be estimated at least 84,568 killed. This does strike me as a reasonable estimate. There are some who question that and claim that the Mediazona is undercounting by a factor of 3 or 4 based upon their count of Wagner casualties. I am not sure of that argument and its application to the entire set of casualties. I do question any estimated Russian killed count higher than 100,000 and I do challenge those people making such an argument to provide a factual basis for these higher estimates (I seriously doubt they can do that).

I suspect Ukrainian losses are at least 75% of Russian losses. There appear to be two periods in this war where Russian losses were higher the Ukrainian losses. That was Wagner group attacks on Bakhmut and the recent attacks on Avdiivka. There does appear to be a couple of periods in this war where Ukrainian losses were higher than Russian losses. This may have been early in the war, when thousands of Ukrainian prisoners were taken (although the exchange in people killed may have been roughly equal) and during the fall 2022 offensive in Kherson province, although not much had been reported about that. Therefore, if Ukrainian losses are at least 75% of Russian losses we are looking at least at 63,426 Ukrainians killed.

Assuming a 4-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio (which is an assumption, it could be higher, it is probably not much lower), then:

Russian: 84,568 killed and 338,272 wounded.

Ukraine: 63,426 killed and 253,704 wounded.

 

Ukraine still has a few thousand people held as prisoners by the Russians. The UN count of Ukranian civilian losses is 9,701 as of 24 September 2023. These reports include civilians killed in the DPR and LPR. For some reason, they have quit updating these reports. The Ukrainian government provided a list of 10,749 civilians killed by name up through 1 August 2023. The DPR and LPR have provided a count of 1,499 civilians killed.

 That is all for now. 

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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2 Comments

  1. You left out the Ukrainian counter-offensive as a period when Ukrainian losses were clearly higher than Russian.

    And during the entire conflict Russia has always had a significant advantage in artillery shells which would lead to higher Ukrainian casualties.

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