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GalaxiePete, your casualty numbers seem high. Civilian war casualties are more easily tracked than military ones because they can be confirmed by sources on the ground while combatant death tolls are obscured by secrecy, chaos, and misinformation. Civilian casualties are generally higher than those of combatants.

Say what you will about Russia's poor performance in the war, it is probably not the worst performance of all time by some large order of magnitude. Based on the rate of tank losses, it seems to be on the order of WWII performance.

The way I begin estimating any time series is by using either long-term historical trends or closest recent comparisons. Conveniently, the UN measures both current casualties and historical ratios of civilian:combatant casualties. Applying this method of estimation to Ukraine, I get a surprisingly low number. (This can't be right?!)

Let's assume this war is on the order of the extremely high WWII civilian:combatant casualty rate of 3:2 or 67%. Then as of May 23, 2022, I calculate:

(3,930 civilians killed + 4,532 civilians injured) x (1 - 0.67) = 5,670 combatant casualties

Then let's build in a lag to compensate for delays in measurement and reporting. Let's say the casualties are occurring at the same rate, and the UN is a month behind in its reporting. One month of a three-month war is about +30%, so the new estimate is:

5,670 x 1.3 = 6,968 combatant casualties

If you think these numbers are low, consider that war casualties are typically heaviest at the beginnings of wars. Using the multi-year average of WWII deaths as a multiplier does not reflect higher front-end casualty numbers in the first three months of the war. So the 29,500 number that a Russian soldier was intercepted saying on a phone call a month ago may be accurate. If the war extends for a long period, we will likely see the trend revert to the historical mean.

Sources:
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
bit.ly
bit.ly
bit.ly
bit.ly

#50, send us the stats on Russian hunger normalized against comparative stats for other major countries. You might be right, but that has never been my experience in visiting Russia.

#48, I would say the US-led NATO alliance has fought Russia. I stick by that. Without American support, this war would have been over by now. We (I say "we" because I am American, not a Russian troll) have actively discouraged peace talks when Zelenski said he would be willing to accept NATO-neutrality. We have already committed more funds to Ukraine than the entire military budget of Russia. And it didn't start after the Russian invasion. The arms were already pouring in beginning in 2017 and accelerating from there.

That, I believe, is why Putin struck when he did. He needed to make his move before Ukraine became too strong and a NATO member. Did he miscalculate? Yes, he faced more Western resistance than he thought he would after the non-response to Crimea and the blip in Georgia. Was there a better moment to make a move? Not by waiting. He saw that the West's gestures at a diplomatic solution would never lead to a compromise that would satisfy him, namely no NATO membership for Ukraine. Eventually Ukraine would become an official member. In the meantime, they would be a de facto member.

Given these factors, Putin saw opportunity to strike with a new PM in Germany, a politically vulnerable president facing an election in France, and Biden in the US, who could be anticipated to stick to the status quo. After all, Obama did not send weapons to Ukraine. Obama understood that Russia would view that as an existential threat and did not think it was worth the risk. Does the stiffer-than-expected resistance mean Putin's war will fail? Maybe. The readers of this blog certainly hope so. But it will be a cold winter in Germany without Russian gas. It will be an uphill battle for US politicians at the polls when Americans become drained by inflation. Many of the warmongers will be voted out. A faraway land will seem a lot less engaging after enough news cycles. After all, we don't have any boots on the ground "over there." But Russia is committed.

Ukraine is not a monolith. It is an ethnically fragmented country. The united, defiant Ukraine view doesn't pass the sniff test for a country that was embroiled in what amounts to a civil war for nearly a decade before the Russian invasion. You are right about the hate Russia thing. While many have a new and legitimate reason to hate Russia post-invasion, the Russia haters were already in power and at war with their own ethnically Russian population, which brings us back to my initial point: We are funding Nazis in Ukraine whether the mainstream media reports on it or not.

El Buscador, I appreciate your thoughtful responses and links. I'm adding this note at the beginning of what I already wrote below because I don't have time to respond to you.

Fun fact: Did you know that the word Ukraine means "borderland" in Russian?

There are so many experts here who should be on the Disinformation Governance Board to curate the truth. It's hard to argue with such rigorous truth-seeking as illuminated in #45. Unless of course one were to try to understand The Other, then a counter argument could be found. But thanks to the DGB here, we may all be spared the burden of thought.

#43, I have trouble believing this is a resource war. That is a common theory that makes little sense given Russia's ample resources and absence of hunger. That it is a land grab for a strategic land bridge with naval access to the Black Sea is an argument I buy, but not a land grab for wheat or gas.

To address another of your points, "What's best for themselves" might have been to not enshrine the pursuit of NATO membership into the Ukrainian constitution in 2019. In the Western Hemisphere, the US allows states the right to self determination only to the extent that it violates the Monroe Doctrine. Soviet missiles in Cuba, for example, represented a foreign power at the US doorstep, which was unacceptable to Kennedy. Yet Kennedy avoided war by de-escalating. He secretly negotiated to remove US missiles from the Russian border in Turkey in exchange for Soviets removing their missiles from Cuba.

Not so NATO in Ukraine. NATO doubled-down. Under Trump and then even more so under Biden, NATO poured in weapons to Ukraine despite more than a decade of warnings from Moscow and a war in Georgia to prove they meant business about "no NATO." The Ukraine border nearly completes a military ring around Russia. And that long Ukraine border represents a significant proportion of the ring. A coordinated military ring around Russia would give those that control it the power to dictate policy, controlling land and sea trade and military routes. NATO has proven they don't want to let Russia in their club, a club intended to counter Soviet aggression (a self-fulfilling prophecy). So Russia has to believe they are the enemy; and the enemy is at the gate. Ukraine is not the enemy, Putin reckons, the US-led NATO coalition is.

I think Putin is enforcing his own sort of Monroe Doctrine. Let's call it the Moscow Doctrine. Is it a just war? Let the ethicists decide. Is it justifiable from a Russian preemptive national defense point of view? I can see it. Was it predictable? Yes. Hard to believe but not without warning. Is it what's best for Ukraine? Absolutely not.

#41, I agree war is horrible. (Who doesn't?) If we spent more time dwelling on the horrors of war, maybe there would be less of it. Ukraine was becoming a de facto member of NATO. Putin did not need the Ukrainians to sign the paperwork to see the growing NATO force depositing weapons near his border. Putin knew that prior to Zelenski, back in 2014, the US backed a regime change to remove another legitimately elected leader in Ukraine, Yanukovych, and install one that would pursue pro-NATO anti-Russia policies. The US-backed anti-Russia regime change next door must've been pretty alarming for ol' Cold War Putin, especially after NATO had denied his petition for membership. Indeed the first act of the new government was to outlaw Russian language. Russia responded to these events by annexing Crimea. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated from there. Over the next eight years 17,000 eastern Ukrainians, including civilians men, women and children died at the hands of the Ukrainian military and paramilitary, a large number of whom were known Nazi ultranationalists getting a little of the ol' ultraviolence.

El Buscador, I appreciate your thoughtful responses and links. I'm adding this note at the beginning of what I already wrote below because I don't have time to respond to you.

Fun fact: Did you know that the word Ukraine means "borderland" in Russian?

There are so many experts here who should be on the Disinformation Governance Board to curate the truth. It's hard to argue with such rigorous truth-seeking as illuminated in #45. Unless of course one were to try to understand The Other, then a counter argument could be found. But thanks to the DGB here, we may all be spared the burden of thought.

#43, I have trouble believing this is a resource war. That is a common theory that makes little sense given Russia's ample resources and absence of hunger. That it is a land grab for a strategic land bridge with naval access to the Black Sea is an argument I buy, but not a land grab for wheat or gas.

To address another of your points, "What's best for themselves" might have been to not enshrine the pursuit of NATO membership into the Ukrainian constitution in 2019. In the Western Hemisphere, the US allows states the right to self determination only to the extent that it violates the Monroe Doctrine. Soviet missiles in Cuba, for example, represented a foreign power at the US doorstep, which was unacceptable to Kennedy. Yet Kennedy avoided war by de-escalating. He secretly negotiated to remove US missiles from the Russian border in Turkey in exchange for Soviets removing their missiles from Cuba.

Not so NATO in Ukraine. NATO doubled-down. Under Trump and then even more so under Biden, NATO poured in weapons to Ukraine despite more than a decade of warnings from Moscow and a war in Georgia to prove they meant business about "no NATO." The Ukraine border nearly completes a military ring around Russia. And that long Ukraine border represents a significant proportion of the ring. A coordinated military ring around Russia would give those that control it the power to dictate policy, controlling land and sea trade and military routes. NATO has proven they don't want to let Russia in their club, a club intended to counter Soviet aggression (a self-fulfilling prophecy). So Russia has to believe they are the enemy; and the enemy is at the gate. Ukraine is not the enemy, Putin reckons, the US-led NATO coalition is.

I think Putin is enforcing his own sort of Monroe Doctrine. Let's call it the Moscow Doctrine. Is it a just war? Let the ethicists decide. Is it justifiable from a Russian preemptive national defense point of view? I can see it. Was it predictable? Yes. Hard to believe but not without warning. Is it what's best for Ukraine? Absolutely not.

#41, I agree war is horrible. (Who doesn't?) If we spent more time dwelling on the horrors of war, maybe there would be less of it. Ukraine was becoming a de facto member of NATO. Putin did not need the Ukrainians to sign the paperwork to see the growing NATO force depositing weapons near his border. Putin knew that prior to Zelenski, back in 2014, the US backed a regime change to remove another legitimately elected leader in Ukraine, Yanukovych, and install one that would pursue pro-NATO anti-Russia policies. The US-backed anti-Russia regime change next door must've been pretty alarming for ol' Cold War Putin, especially after NATO had denied his petition for membership. Indeed the first act of the new government was to outlaw Russian language. Russia responded to these events by annexing Crimea. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated from there. Over the next eight years 17,000 eastern Ukrainians, including civilians men, women and children died at the hands of the Ukrainian military and paramilitary, a large number of whom were known Nazi ultranationalists getting a little of the ol' ultraviolence.

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