240,000 military and civilian casualties and 13.4 million people displaced as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues into second year
Photo: A team of investigators on Wednesday catalogued the bodies of people reportedly killed by Russian forces in Bucha, Ukraine. Photo by Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times.
February 24th marked the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
CBC now reports: “A team of journalists from the independent media outlet Mediazona, along with journalists from BBC’s Russian service and the help of volunteers, have created a database and confirmed more than 15,000 Russian military deaths since the war began.”
The article adds: “In December, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, estimated that as many as 13,000 of its troops died.”
At that time, the BBC reported: “Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said between 10,000 and 13,000 troops had died. In June he said between 100 and 200 Ukrainian soldiers were dying daily.”
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has also verified that 8,006 civilian have been killed in Ukraine.
And in November 2022, US General Mark Milley suggested that around 100,000 Russian soldiers and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured and that around 40,000 civilians had died during the war in Ukraine.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) further notes that 13.4 million people have been displaced by the war and that an estimated 15 million Ukrainians are struggling with deteriorating mental health.
Photo: An anti-war protest in St. Petersburg on February 24, 2022. Photo by Anton Vaganov/Reuters.
No peace talks
On the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) stated: “Russia started this war and Russia can end this war. We call on Russia to stop its ongoing aggression and to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from the entire internationally recognized territory of Ukraine.”
Last month, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly also said of Canada’s support for Ukraine: “Right now, it’s not time to talk about peace, it is time to arm them.” And Defence Minister Anita Anand has seemingly ruled out a ceasefire and peace talks. She says: “Putin started this war. He can end it by withdrawing.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also rejected negotiations. Last month, he stated: “Our right to live in our land needs to be respected. Leave our territory and withdraw and stop killing civilians and stop air strikes, stop killing dogs, cats and animals. Only after that we will tell you what form diplomacy might take.”
Taking a contrary view, Cesar Jaramillo of the Canadian peace research institute Project Ploughshares recently commented in The Globe and Mail newspaper: “A negotiated settlement would not be capitulation, nor a sign of weakness, and agreeing to negotiations would not bind any party to a particular outcome. Rather, negotiations would be a first step in finding common ground and possible solutions.”
He concludes: “A negotiated settlement is a sensible and realistic approach to ending the war. Efforts to stop the carnage would not constitute a surrendering of principles, but a triumph for humanity, diplomacy and pragmatism. It is high time to end the war in Ukraine.”
Photo: More than 13,000 people rallied in Berlin last month in opposition to the delivery of weapons to Ukraine and in support of peace talks. Photo by Christian Mang/Reuters.
Arms companies profit
Meanwhile, the arms industry is booming.
The Hill recently reported that US weapons sales to other countries increased from $34.8 billion in sales in 2021 to $51.9 billion, “largely due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.”
That’s a 49 per cent increase in sales.
Benjamin Freeman, a research fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, has told CBC Radio’s Day 6: “This industry is a war industry. Their business is war. [The war in Ukraine is] a profit opportunity for them. …[It is] adding an accelerant on top of a raging bonfire [of arms sales] already. It’s really been a windfall for these firms. Their stock prices have soared because of it.”
One year ago this month, Peace Brigades International issued this statement that highlights: “Despite the call of the UN Secretary Antonio Guterres for the ‘immediate cessation of hostilities and serious negotiations based on the principles of the UN Charter and international law’, many countries have responded to the crisis by exporting weapons and military equipment to Ukraine, and promising to increase military spending. We are concerned that this initiative could perpetuate armed conflict and suffering for the civilian population.”
We continue to follow this situation in Ukraine and Russia with concern and affirmation of the imperative for peace.