We can confidently talk about the number of Russians killed. Estimates based on open sources (obituaries, online news, etc.) by the Russian BBC service, Mediazone and volunteers indicate that by mid-July, around 28,000 people had died. named Russian soldiers. The investigators themselves believe that after correcting for the understatement, the real number will be twice as high, i.e. fifty-six thousand people.
Calculations made using other methods published by Meduza and Mediazona, which conducted them in collaboration with excess mortality researcher Dmitry Kobak, give about 47,000 at the end of May (25,000 dead in 2022 and another 22,000 dead in the first five months of 2023). That is, by mid-summer, the losses of the Russian Federation clearly exceeded fifty thousand people.
Independent demographers rate the quality of both the first and second counts highly. Therefore, there is every reason to believe these investigations and to believe that the losses of Russian citizens in mid-July amounted to 50-56 thousand people.
Together with the deceased representatives of the Donbass from the so-called of the “DNR” and “ŁPR” peasant militias (according to the BBC, 11,000 killed and 8,000 missing), the total Russian losses already exceed 60,000. seventy thousand people.
Scale is not for Putin
This is much more than the losses suffered by the troops of the USSR and the Russian Federation after World War II in all wars and military operations combined (50,000). In both Chechen wars, as well as in the Afghan war, the imperial army lost several times fewer dead.
Compared to the wars waged by the United States after World War II, even the bloodiest war of all, the ten-year war in Vietnam, cost America fewer lives (58,000) than Ukraine’s Russia.
This war required America to mobilize 2.2 million men. This is seven times less than was mobilized there in 1941-1945 for the war with Germany and Japan. If Putin had come out of the same proportion and mobilized seven times fewer fighters for the campaign against Ukraine than Stalin did during World War II (34.5 million), he would have had to arm as many as 5 million people.
In February 2022, he is clearly not the ruler understood the scale of the war. Formally, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation numbered over a million soldiers at that time, but there were four times fewer of them capable of combat use. They were sent to the front with contingents from the Donbass, where they mobilized on a “Vietnamese” scale and took almost 100,000 soldiers under arms. people per 3.7 million inhabitants.
One percent panic
The fact that there will be a categorical shortage of fighters, the regime was not ready. They promised not to send draft boys to the front, rightly fearing discontent from the grassroots. In a dishonest way, some of them were sent to fight anyway. But in general this restriction was respected. An additional set of performers gave only tens of thousands. An appeal to Prigozhin for help brought another fifty thousand prisoners and “free” landsknechts.
This is clearly not enough, said the Kremlin, which in the fall of 2022 broke its spring vows and appointed 300,000. reservists. By formal standards, it was quite a lot, since the mobilization resources of the Russian Federation, according to the assurances of the Minister of War Shoigu, amount to 25 million.
They took just over 1% of those who could.
But already the first wave of mobilization showed that ordinary Russians, who had previously looked extremely calmly from the outside at the death of their fellow citizens in the war (not to mention the Ukrainians), they felt very painfully when they sent themselves or their loved ones forward.
By November 2022, the authorities managed to deal with the widespread panic, but they did not like it very much. So they refrained from the new waves of mobilization, which were already expected in winter, and from sending conscripts to fight.
The calmness with which the Russians bear the victims of war, if they or their children are not among those victims, was not surprising. In the Covid epidemic, Russia lost more than 1 million people, half of whom died due to the mediocrity of the authorities. However, this did not cause any noticeable dissatisfaction with the bottom end. And military losses are much smaller than those caused by Covid.
If we assume that in the second half of 2023 the Russian army will die as much as in the first half, then this year the Russian Federation will lose about 50,000, i.e. (including the deceased representatives of Donbas) 60,000. people. This is 6-7% of all male deaths. Russian society will apparently react to this with the same indifference with which it perceives, for example, the expected drop in the birth rate by 5-10% in the same 2023 and its decline to 1.2 million, which is the level of the worst years in history – 1943 and 1999.
The fatalism of Russian society is the most important political capital of the regime. He doesn’t want to wake her from her stupor. That is why even the most moderate mobilization scares him so much.
But there’s nowhere to go.
Who to fight?
In 2022, the regime took a total of 400,000 fighters – mobilized, prisoners and contract soldiers. This was enough for him to cover losses, increase the contingents fighting in Ukraine and, in a way, resume attacks in several regions.
December 2022 – March 2023 became the bloodiest since the beginning of the war. The cost of taking Bakhmut was the death of allegedly two tens of thousands of people, mostly Prigogine. Today, 36% of the identified Russian dead are prisoners and “free” Wagnerians, and only 11% are mobilized.
But in the summer of 2023, when the Ukrainians tried to go on the offensive, the roles changed. The Prigozhinites suffered heavy losses and were withdrawn from the front even before the riots. And after it, apparently, they will not dare to push such masses of prisoners and landsknechts to the front. In June last year, every third person who died came from those who were mobilized last fall.
In fact, only now has it been the turn of yesterday’s peaceful inhabitants. “It is the specialists and volunteers appointed from among the civilian population that are currently the core of the forward troops of the Ministry of National Defense, taking part in repelling the counteroffensive of Ukraine” – says the BBC.
Not only has the composition of the dead changed, but once again their number has increased sharply. According to investigators, in the first five months of 2023, almost as many Russians died as in the entire ten military months of 2022. By the end of May, the irretrievable losses of the Russian Federation (killed and seriously injured from service, the number of which is approximately calculated by the number of compensation for injuries issued) amounted to 125 thousand people. So, to this day, they have apparently achieved one hundred and fifty thousand!
The doubling of the expenditure rate of fighters and the growing need to replace devastated formations with fresh ones forces an increase in the influx of new cadres to replace those that have left. But the state’s 2023 plans include conscripting the same 400,000 people as last year. And this time – not “mobikow” and not prisoners, but only contract soldiers. Whether this venture will succeed is not yet clear. Shoigu recently reported employing 166,000 contract troops of all categories, but this cannot be verified to be true.
But even if the plan is implemented, this supplement is unlikely to be enough. The demand for cannon fodder increased compared to the previous year. There are two main sources.
First, the conscripts: the spring conscription brought the authorities a larger than usual catch – 147,000. tone.
Secondly, “mobiles”: it is increasingly difficult to postpone the new wave of mobilization.
The war turned out not to be what it was intended for. The regime is not used to this.
And his choice is simple. Either admit defeat and ask for a truce, or use your fists to get your people used to the war they’ve been fighting. And if it is the mode we have known so far, it will choose the latter.