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“Terrible tribute” from Russia’s years-long invasion of Ukraine

PARIS — When Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, he launched a war that has killed tens of thousands, devastated cities and battered the country’s economy.

A year later, here are the costs of the conflict:

This is what awaits you in this article

military casualties

According to the latest estimates from Norway, 180,000 Russian soldiers and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded or killed in the conflict. Other Western sources estimate that the war claimed 150,000 casualties on each side. In comparison, about 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in a full decade of fighting in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. Ukrainian soldiers often use the term “cannon fodder” to describe the Russians who were sent to their deaths on the front lines. They are often poorly trained conscripts who stand little chance against Ukrainian forces determined to defend their country. Others are convicts recruited in Russian prisons to expand the ranks of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which Kiev and its allies say are used on near-impossible missions with the equivalent of a gun pointed at their heads. The attack has also taken its toll on the Ukrainian side, as evidenced by the endless blue and yellow national flags fluttering over cemeteries in the contested country.

civilian casualties

When Moscow’s forces took control of Mariupol in late May after three months of bombardment, the southern port city was engulfed in a sea of ​​debris strewn with bodies. Kiev said at least 20,000 Ukrainian civilians were killed. In total, around 30,000 to 40,000 civilians across the country have lost their lives in the conflict, according to Western sources. The United Nations estimates that 21,000 civilians were killed or wounded in the fighting but said the real number was likely much higher. At least 400 children were killed, according to Ukrainian authorities. The UN said most of the civilians killed died during the Russian bombing. In the long term, landmines will also pose a major threat to civilians. Kyiv says 30 percent of Ukraine’s territory has been contaminated, while Human Rights Watch has accused Ukrainian troops of laying banned anti-personnel land mines in the eastern Izyum region. Experts warn that demining could take decades.

war crimes

Several images symbolize the devastating effects of war on ordinary Ukrainians. When AFP journalists entered the Kiev suburb of Bucha on April 2, 2022, they found a street littered with the bodies of civilians. A man had fallen on his bike, another had a shopping bag in his hand. Another had his hands tied behind his back. Days later, a child’s toy lay bloodied at a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk after a Russian missile struck as thousands of civilians waited for a train to flee the violence. At least 57 civilians were killed.

Last month, people around the world saw the photo of a heavily pregnant woman on a stretcher being evacuated from a Mariupol hospital after it was bombed. Neither she nor her baby survived. Around 65,000 suspected war crimes were reported during the war, European Union Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said.

UN investigators have accused Russia of committing war crimes on a “massive scale” in Ukraine – bombings, executions, torture and appalling sexual violence. Kiev claims Moscow forcibly deported more than 16,000 children to Russia or to areas controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. Several NGOs, meanwhile, have condemned Ukraine for violating the rights of Russian prisoners of war, albeit on a much smaller scale.

The International Criminal Court launched investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity last year. But it can’t prosecute either country for possible war crimes because neither Russia nor Ukraine is a member of the Hague court. Kyiv is instead pushing for the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute Moscow for the crime of aggression, saying it sees this as a way to achieve justice more quickly and target the Kremlin’s top officials more easily.

1,500 km front line

Entire villages and towns lie in ruins on the eastern battlefront, and the earth is riddled with huge craters. Exhausted soldiers lurk at the bottom of muddy trenches while the muffled thud of artillery fire roars overhead. The “active” frontline runs north-south along 1,500 kilometers of territory, according to Valery Saluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

“Terrible tribute” from Russia’s years-long invasion of Ukraine, Crypto Trading News

Medics treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers at a front-line medical stabilization point near Vuhledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 19, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)

One of the hotspots is the town of Bakhmut, described by many Ukrainian soldiers as “hell on earth”, where Russian soldiers and Wagner mercenaries have been steadily advancing in recent weeks. A few thousand civilians still live in the city, huddled in basements without running water or electricity, and taking great risks in search of fresh air, food, water and fuel. Moscow’s troops occupy nearly a fifth of Ukraine, according to the US-based Institute for the Study of War. But Zaluzhny said Ukrainian forces managed to retake about 40 percent of the territory occupied after last year’s invasion.

ailing economy

Fighting has been concentrated in eastern Ukraine since Russian forces withdrew from the north of the country a month into the war, after failing to capture Kiev. Homes, shops and factories were vandalized in these areas. Russia has repeatedly targeted vital energy infrastructure across the country in recent months, causing power outages and leaving millions without heating this winter.

The World Bank said in October it expected the country’s economy to contract by 35 percent in 2022. The Kyiv School of Economics estimated in January that it would cost $138 billion to replace all war-ravaged infrastructure. In a country famous for its grain and sunflower oil exports, the war has caused more than $34 billion in economic losses in the agricultural sector, it said in November.

The Ukrainian government said around 3,000 schools were affected by the fighting, as were 239 cultural sites, according to the UN Cultural Fund. Rebuilding Ukraine after the invasion would cost an estimated $349 billion, according to a September joint estimate by the Ukrainian government, the European Commission and the World Bank. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to take a terrible toll,” said Anna Bjerde of the World Bank at the time.

million refugees

More than eight million Ukrainians have had to flee Ukraine since war broke out, according to the UN refugee agency, the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Neighboring Poland is home to the bulk of these refugees, at more than 1.5 million. More than five million people have been displaced within the country. Moscow said another five million people had sought refuge in Russia, despite Kiev accusing the Russians of conducting “forced evacuations”.

Western military aid

When Russia invaded, the Ukrainian armed forces largely had obsolete Soviet-era military equipment at their disposal to defend themselves. Kiev has repeatedly urged its western allies to send it modern weapons, ranging from air defense systems to heavy tanks.

The West was initially reluctant to intervene too much to avoid another direct confrontation between itself and nuclear-armed Russia, but has gradually acceded to most demands. But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request for F-16 fighter jets has not yet been met. With the help, the United States sent 80 km-range Himars precision rocket launchers, which far outperform Russian equipment and analysts say helped turn the tide in this fall’s battle against the Russians in the Kharkiv region of the northeastern territory Cherson in the south.

By November, Kiev’s allies had pledged more than 37 billion euros in military aid, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. This figure does not include the recent January announcements that the US, Canada and several European countries will send modern main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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