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Russia’s losses in Ukraine dwarf those of past conflicts, analyst finds

A destroyed Russian tank on the middle of the road to Bohdanivka
A destroyed Russian tank on the middle of the road to Bohdanivka. Photo: Euromaidan Press
Russia’s losses in Ukraine dwarf those of past conflicts, analyst finds

Volodymyr Dacenko, an analyst and former Forbes Ukraine columnist, compared Russia’s losses in its war in Ukraine to the other countries’ losses in nine other wars, and found that Russia’s daily losses in Ukraine are approximately 20 times greater than the US’s losses in Vietnam or Russia’s losses in the First Chechen War.

Average daily losses of the main attacking country (per Dacenko)
Germany World War II 2,415 KIA per day
USSR Finnish War 1939 1,440
Germany World War I 1,280
Russia Ukrainian War 2022-2023 380
(about 650 per day
after mobilization)
North Korea Korean War 1950 337
Russia Russian-Japanese War 1904 115
Russia First Chechen War 1994 22
USA War in Vietnam 1964-75 20
USSR Afghan War 1979-1989 4
USA Iraq War 2003-2009 2

“As we can see, Russia’s daily losses are about 20 times greater than the US’s losses in Vietnam and Russia’s losses in the First Chechen War. Obviously, the duration and success of war depend on resources. And one of the most important resources of war is soldiers,” Dacenko notes.

Dacenko used the ratio of average daily losses (killed and wounded) to the total number of engaged troops to calculate a war’s potential. For example, the strength of the USSR army in the war against Finland in 1939 was 1 million soldiers, the average losses were 3,365 soldiers per day, so the loss intensity amounted to 3,365/1,000,000=0.336% per day.

He found that wars with a loss intensity of less than 0.05% per day tend to be protracted, while wars with a loss intensity of more than 0.3% per day usually do not last more than 2-3 months.

Dacenko’s infographics show the “intensity of losses” of the attacking countries in various wars: “This indicator shows a fairly clear dependence of the duration of wars (wars that do not achieve complete success) on the intensity of losses,” he added:

Losses in wars. Infographic: Volodymyr Dacenko

Dacenko calculates Russia’s loss rate as of February 2023 in the Russia-Ukraine war to be about 0.144% per day, suggesting that the conflict could continue for about two years.  However, he also notes that significant qualitative changes on the battlefield would be required to prolong the conflict, including improving the effectiveness of soldiers’ use:

Given the relatively small number of forces, such dynamics of losses are unlikely to allow conducting a multi-year campaign,” he notes.

”It is worth noting that the increase in the size of the army, after partial mobilization [in Russia that started in September 2023], led to a proportional increase in the rate of losses. If in the summer [2022], the number of killed soldiers was estimated at 200-300 per day. After November, this indicator exceeds 500 per day,” Volodymyr Dacenko says.

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