Ukraine is Making Putin's Foreign Adventure Costly in Lives and Prestige

AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

The Russian defense ministry has yet to announce any casualty figures in Ukraine. That’s not unusual or unexpected. They say that Ukraine’s losses are “many times” that of Russia.


The Ukrainian government says that at least 5,000 Russian troops have perished. While that’s an obvious exaggeration, it’s clear that the Russian invasion has been no cakewalk and that Russian losses in men and materiel are climbing.

The New York Times reports that some Russian troops have thrown down their arms and refused to fight once they realized Ukraine was not full of Nazis and that they were fighting an aggressive war. But other members of Russia’s conscript army may simply be afraid of going into a meat grinder.

American officials had expected the northeastern city of Kharkiv to fall in a day, for example, but Ukrainian troops there have fought back and regained control despite furious rocket fire. The bodies of Russian soldiers have been left in areas surrounding Kharkiv. Videos and photos on social media show charred remains of tanks and armored vehicles, their crews dead or wounded.

The Economist believes that Russia suffered more casualties in the first 24 hours of the invasion than they did during their entire deployment to Syria.

As russia continues to wage war in Ukraine, the fighting has not been as one-sided as might have been expected. Despite being outgunned and outnumbered, Ukraine inflicted more casualties in 24 hours than Russia suffered over eight years of engagements in Syria. Ukraine’s anti-tank weapons have presented serious resistance to Russia’s advances in the north and east. This may strike some as surprising. On paper, Ukraine’s military budget is smaller than that of city-state Singapore.


As the Economist points out, an American-made anti-tank weapon, the Javelin shoulder-fired missile, has been wreaking havoc on Russian armor.

Jerusalem Post:

The Javelin is a lightweight, man-portable, shoulder-fired missile system that has been combat-proven to destroy armored threats. The fire-and-forget medium anti-tank system, with a range of between 65m and 4,000m, can be used as an urban assault weapon. The Javelin can destroy a wide range of targets in two different attack modes: a top attack, where the system strikes the weakest point of the target, or a direct attack for soft targets.

Anti-aircraft Stinger missiles have also proved their worth, shooting down several Russian aircraft.

As the Times report states, Putin is getting a lot more than he bargained for in Ukraine.

“Given the many reports of over 4,000 Russians killed in action, it is clear that something dramatic is happening,” said Adm. James G. Stavridis, who was NATO’s supreme allied commander before his retirement. “If Russian losses are this significant, Vladimir Putin is going to have some difficult explaining to do on his home front.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, added, “There are going to be a lot of Russians going home in body bags and a lot of Russian families grieving the longer this goes on.”


One more indication that the war is going badly so far for Putin is the number of dead Russian soldiers being left behind.

“It’s been shocking to see that they’re leaving their fallen brethren behind on the battlefield,” said Evelyn Farkas, the top Pentagon official for Russia and Ukraine during the Obama administration. “Eventually the moms will be like, ‘Where’s Yuri? Where’s Maksim?’”

In the next few days, an armored column 40-miles long will have encircled Kyiv — a clear ultimatum to the Ukrainian government to surrender or have one of the ancient capitals of Europe reduced to ashes.

Cities can be rebuilt. And while there is no doubt that Russia will prevail, at what cost will Putin have paid to get his pound of flesh?



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