The fog of war is very real. Even though we have satellite imagery and daily battle footage out of Ukraine, what is happening on the ground is being hotly disputed. For starters, no one can get a handle on the number of casualties.
NATO just came out with its initial estimates of Russian losses in the first month of the offensive. On its face this number seems absurd. In its buildup to the war Russia pre-positioned 150,000 troops on the border of Ukraine. That means, on the high end, over a quarter of its fighting force has been either killed or wounded in only four weeks of fighting.
To put that number into perspective, the United States had 2,401 service members killed in Afghanistan over a 20-year period. Russia officially has claimed around 1,300 soldiers have been killed in what are calling their ‘special operation’ rather than a war (it is a war). Ukraine claims 14,200 killed since the start of the war.
With such wildly disparate numbers, it is impossible to know who is telling the truth. It is a safe bet, however, that Russia is underestimating and Ukraine is overestimating the numbers.
Whatever the real number is, it is much higher than observers predicted. Most pundits believed that Ukraine would just roll over and capitulate within a matter of days or weeks. The small country looks to be dug in for the long haul, thanks to the U.S. and NATO providing weapons and other aid to the nation.
This situation has some unintended consequences. China is clearly taking a close look at Russia’s operations as it looks to Taiwan, a country already claimed by China as a part of its nation to be reunited under China’s CCP government.Now we know that a small country with modern weapons can inflict a staggering cost on an invading army and resist at a level not seen previously. China may be more hesitant to make its own aggressive moves now.
On the other side, NATO and the United States may be emboldened by a weakened Russia and decide to enter the fray.
The impact that Ukraine’s surprise resistance will have on the rest of the world is currently unknown. Will it deter aggressive actions in the world or will it expand to include more Western nations? Just like the Russian casualty numbers, no one can know for sure. But we can safely assume that we shouldn’t blindly trust the Kremlin or the Deep State.