400,000 Ukrainians Killed In Action Explains A Whole Lot

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Dec 15, 2023 - 04:40 AM

Authored by Mike Fredenburg via The Epoch Times,

How many casualties has Ukraine suffered?

How many causalities has Russia suffered?

Answering these questions is critical to determining the best and most moral path forward for Ukraine and the United States.

Estimates of Ukrainians killed in action (KIA) range from a low of just over 30,000 to a high of over 400,000.

Obviously, these two estimates can’t be reconciled. And it really, really matters to the people of Ukraine which one is closer to the truth. While 30,000 deaths is tragic, anything approaching 400,000 KIA and the accompanying hundreds of thousands of causalities is a humanitarian catastrophe that makes talks of continuing offensive operations next year, or even believing in a stalemate, wishful thinking that will result in even more fruitless Ukrainian deaths.

Unsurprisingly, since the war began, the United States and its allies have unswervingly pushed the narrative that Russia is incurring far more casualties than Ukraine. This casualty narrative was critical to maintaining any plausibility that Ukraine could defeat a country that has four to five times more men of military age and that was recently rated as having the world’s most powerful military. Hence, given the need to maintain the plausibility of a Ukrainian victory, it isn't surprising that NATO intelligence asserted that the battle of Bakhmut saw Russia losing at least five soldiers KIA for every one of Ukraine’s.

However, since the fall of Bakhmut to Russia, the failure of the much-hyped Ukrainian counteroffensive, and signs that Ukraine’s military is nearing collapse, we're no longer hearing about five-to-one casualty rates. Still, the most recent estimates from United States and British officials claim that Russia has suffered 120,000 KIA while Ukraine has suffered “only” 70,000 KIA (more than the United States suffered in over 10 years of the Vietnam War).

But not everyone agrees with U.S./British casualty estimates for an army that started the war by mobilizing early 1 million men in arms and, over the course of the war, mobilized another estimated 1 million. Among the growing number of those who don’t agree is the former director of the Joint Operations Center at Supreme Headquarters Europe and one of the key leaders in achieving the legendary victory in the mass tank battle of 73 Easting, retired U.S. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor.

In a recent interview with myself, Col. Macgregor agreed that while estimates putting Russian KIA at as high as 50,000 to 60,000 are defensible, most estimates for Ukrainian KIAs are not.

In what many will undoubtedly find shocking given the countless stories disparaging Russia’s military skills and capabilities while uncritically fawning over Ukraine’s military prowess, Col. Macgregor puts Ukrainian KIA at over 400,000 out of the 2 million Ukraine has mobilized.

Col. Macgregor arrived at this shocking number using a wide variety of sources, including contacts within U.S. intelligence and contacts on the ground in Ukraine and Poland who have intimate knowledge of what's really happening in Ukraine.

In particular, he noted that his U.S. intelligence contacts have expressed shock as to just how far from reality the narrative being pushed by the Biden administration is from what's happening in Ukraine and its real war losses.

Likewise, Col. Macgregor’s Ukraine contacts relayed to him accounts of thousands of wounded Ukrainians being left to die on the battlefield, growing numbers of Ukrainian commanders and troops refusing orders to conduct suicide attacks against heavily fortified Russian positions, Ukrainian soldiers surrendering en masse to Russia, hospitals overflowing with Ukrainian wounded, and many other accounts that testify to horrendous casualty rates that contradict the narrative pushed by Western media.

Additionally, Col. Macgregor’s contacts have analyzed satellite imagery showing a massive expansion of Ukrainian cemeteries and countless tens of thousands of fresh graves. Other open-source intelligence analysis has also documented in detail Ukraine’s massive expansion of cemeteries that will soon allow Ukraine to reportedly bury 1.5 million more people. And a Russian analyst using death notices and other open-source intelligence has come up with Ukrainian KIA estimates of over 300,000.

But for Col. Macgregor, it's the totality of the reports he has seen, his understanding of historical casualty rates, his personal military experience, and information from his sources that has brought him to the conclusion that Ukraine’s KIA is a magnitude greater than what's commonly being reported.

These numbers, coupled with the fact the war could have been avoided had President Volodymyr Zelenskyy been knowledgeable and wise enough to understand that U.S./NATO promises of victory were completely unrealistic and couldn't be relied upon, have led Col. Macgregor, who has fond memories of growing up in a Ukrainian immigrant neighborhood, to believe that the war is an absolute disaster for Ukraine that could have and should have been avoided.

“In humanitarian terms, this tragedy has resulted in the Ukrainian nation being destroyed in a war that never needed to be fought,” Col. Macgregor said.

While Col. Macgregor isn't alone in calling out the war as being a total disaster for Ukraine, he's one of just a few Western military experts willing to buck a narrative whose zealotry has assumed religious overtones. But is there evidence we can look at that lends support to his assessment? In short, the answer is “Yes!”

First and foremost, history tells us artillery-centric wars such as World War I and the Ukraine-Russia war produce massive amounts of casualties and KIA. Indeed, during the short period of time America fought the Germans in World War I, it suffered 318,000 casualties, including 53,000 KIA over a period of 120 days, and another 60,000 who died due to disease and accidents. Consequently, given the advances in real-time battlefield intelligence that have been made since World War I, very high casualty rates from artillery should be expected.

And because Russia not only started the war with up to a 10 to 1 advantage in artillery power, but continues to maintain its artillery advantage while producing up to seven times more artillery shells than all other NATO nations combined, it's Russia that one would expect to be far ahead in terms of casualty ratios. Russia’s advantage in long-range strike capability, drone warfare, and electronic warfare only add to its ability to inflict disproportionate casualties.

While the above bespeaks of Russia’s potential to deal out disproportionate casualties, the average age of Ukrainian soldiers increasing over time from roughly 32.5 years to 43 years provides concrete evidence that Ukraine has suffered catastrophic casualties over the course of the war. From a statistical perspective, this huge increase in average age fits better with Col. Macgregor’s KIA numbers than those being commonly reported by Western media. Only with very large numbers of KIA or permanently wounded can you get such a large increase in the average age of active-duty Ukrainian soldiers.

Another ominous trend highlighting the desperation of President Zelenskyy’s government is the plan to radically increase the number of women serving in the military, despite the fact that women are at a severe disadvantage to men when it comes to close combat.

Then you have stories and anecdotes describing the life expectancy at the frontlines of Bakhmut being  hours and poorly trained Ukrainian troops being rushed into combat. These kinds of stories are legion, especially in independent or non-Western media. Combined with all the other signs, this makes a strong case that Col. Macgregor’s numbers aren't only plausible, but also help explain why Ukrainian government actions are looking increasingly desperate.

Of course, Col. Macgregor recognizes that coming up with accurate casualty numbers in the middle of a war is extremely tough, and that his estimates could be off by many thousands.

Given the strong evidence that Ukraine is suffering country-destroying casualties, talk of a stalemate, much less of successful offensive territory-gaining operations, is more about face-saving than any realistic chance of Ukraine avoiding losing.

Hence, the only moral path forward for the United States is to tell President Zelenskyy it's well past the time to sue for peace and that he must accept neutrality and the loss of the regions that seceded from Ukraine in 2014.

This is a bitter pill to swallow for Ukrainian nationalists and those in the United States who hoped Ukraine would do far more damage to Russia, but the alternative is accelerating Ukraine’s diminishing chances of remaining a viable nation-state, a whole lot more fruitless Ukrainian deaths, and peace terms substantially worse than those that can be negotiated today.