As of August 3, the date of writing this article, it has been nearly 18 months since Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine. Despite Putin's expectation of a swift takeover of a relatively vulnerable nation, over a year and a half after Russian troops first crossed the Ukrainian border on February 24, 2022, the fighting persists. The world has witnessed this conflict evolve into a full-scale war that has given way to a constant stream of bloodshed, financial expenditure, and destruction.
The way things stand now, Russian forces have control of territory in a thick strip that lines the eastern and southeastern borders of Ukraine, in addition to Crimea in the south, which they annexed in 2014. The Russian military has been stagnant for several months and the territorial breakdown has looked the same for quite some time. Russian and Ukrainian forces have managed to neutralize each other and are engaged in somewhat of a stalemate, despite billions and billions of dollars in military resources thrown towards the war on both sides. Russia has almost entirely self-financed the war and its military budget is sourced largely by oil and natural gas exportation. On the other hand, Ukraine has relied upon the enormous financial backing and donation of military equipment from almost 50 countries to keep up. The United States, by far the most significant provider of these resources to Ukraine, has given over $75 billion in military, financial, and humanitarian aid as of May 31.
Russia has employed a strategy of attrition to slowly whittle down Ukrainian defenses through continuously applied pressure and drive them to the limits of their military power. Until recently, Ukraine’s plan had been only to continuously endure the Russian assault in hopes that Russia finally gave up, but their course of action has shifted. On June 8, Ukraine launched a counteroffensive to take back Russian-occupied territory and accelerate the process of Russian defeat as it became clear that Russia showed no signs of relenting. Attacks are underway in many regions of the country, most notably in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts in the southeast. As of writing, no breakthrough has been made yet on any front and Russians still hold the land.
Figures estimating the total number of casualties since the initial invasion are contradictory, and it is admittedly hard to get an accurate picture of the damage the war has caused. Neither Russia nor Ukraine are particularly enthusiastic to report on their own military and/or civilian losses, and both sides are doing what they can to amplify the other’s damages and minimize their own. According to BBC News Russian in collaboration with Russian independent media outlet Mediazona, 74,000 Russians soldiers had been killed and another 243,000 wounded as of July 7. However, the US estimated 50,000 killed and 180,000 wounded as of May 21, which is just one of many major reporting discrepancies. In regards to Ukrainian casualties, the US estimated that as of May 21, 20,000 soldiers had been killed and another 130,000 wounded, although this figure is also inconsistent with other reports. Additionally, the United Nations has verified 9,369 civilian fatalities as of July 30, but this number is obviously much higher should it account for deaths they could not confirm.