100 Days of War: What’s New in Ukraine
A string of domestic crises may have turned America’s attention inward — mass shootings, a baby formula shortage, unprecedented gas prices, but the war in Ukraine has raged on. Today marks the 100th day since Russia invaded. There is no end in sight. The carnage inflicted on that nation far surpasses all of America’s troubles. Tragedies always hit harder when they are closer to home, but revisiting Europe’s largest war in 70 years can give us valuable perspective on our own troubles.
Status of the Fighting
“We’re losing 60-100 soldiers per day as killed in action and something around 500 people as wounded in action,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Newsmax on Tuesday.
The fighting is primarily concentrated in the country’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, known as the Donbas, where Russian-backed separatists have controlled territory since 2014. Russia has completely retreated from its early advances against Kyiv in the north to redeploy its forces, and Ukraine has recovered all that territory.
In the south, however, Russia has completely captured a swath of territory linking mainland Russia with the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014. Ukrainian forces held out for over a month in the port city of Mariupol before finally relinquishing control of the entire south-eastern coastline to Russia. “Instead of advancing, the Russian armies are constructing layered defenses,” Ukraine’s defense minister said. Russian control is so stable that the Associated Press reports the Russian ruble is now an official currency in Kherson, and residents are being offered Russian passports. As a result, Russian forces now control about a fifth of Ukrainian territory and continue pressing forward, slowly but steadily.
The fiercest fighting is in Sievierodonetsk, the last Ukrainian-controlled city in Luhansk. Nearly surrounded and bombarded night and day, Ukrainian soldiers are fighting the Russians street-by-street as the superior forces muscle their way through the city like a battering ram. Some Ukrainians on the front are surviving on “a potato per day.” About 800 people are currently hiding under a chemical factory in the besieged city. Conquering Luhansk helps Russia politically by bolstering its propaganda narrative.
Over 4,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, and nearly 5,000 have been wounded since the fighting began, according to the UN, although the actual figures are believed to be much higher. “Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes.” Nearly 270 strikes hit healthcare facilities. Russia’s bombing has obliterated entire villages.
More than 6.5 million people have crossed Ukraine’s border into neighboring countries, says the U.N., with another eight million refugees displaced within Ukraine. UNICEF estimates 5.2 children are in need of aid. Reports verified by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights say more than two children have been killed every day of the war, on average. Both Russia and Ukraine have acknowledged that more than 1.5 million people have crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia, including 250,000 children. Russia states they fled Ukraine voluntarily (probably because it’s a warzone), while Ukraine has stated they have been deported against their will.
The economies of both nations are reeling — Ukraine’s from the active fighting and Russia’s from Western sanctions. Ukraine’s central bank has hiked its interest rate to 25% in an effort to stem double-digit inflation. Meanwhile, Russia is facing a deep recession and is so desperate to finance its war that it has restored to looting metal and steel from Ukraine in order to sell them.
The humanitarian consequences of the war have spilled over onto other continents. Senegal’s president Macky Sall, chair of the African Union, visited Putin on Thursday to discuss ways “to contribute to calming down the war in Ukraine, and to [free] up stocks of cereals and fertilizers, the blockage of which particularly affects the African countries.” Ukraine is a leading global producer of grain and cooking oil. “The war has made the world poorer,” complained the Wall Street Journal, and the poorest in the world — those already on starvation’s brink — will suffer most.
Western powers continue to pressure Russia and support Ukraine. On Thursday, the U.S. prohibited an additional 71 entities in Russia and Belarus from doing business with American firms, raising the total number to 322. On Friday, the European Union announced a sixth round of sanctions, including cutbacks of Russian oil and gas. On Tuesday, President Biden announced that America’s latest installment of $700 million in military aid will include advanced rocketry systems to help Ukraine counter superior Russian artillery.
At the same time, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed Ukraine’s right to territorial integrity. “They have the right to say that they are fighting for the whole of Ukraine,” he said on Thursday. Clawing back 20% of their territory will be a tall order for Ukraine’s military. However, having lost major agricultural and industrial regions, not to mention critical port access for exports, Ukraine may need to regain some territory to be economically viable after the war. But despite the battering their economy is taking from Western sanctions, Russia isn’t ready for peace, either. A Kremlin spokesperson said Friday they would continue in Ukraine “until all goals are achieved.”
Every war is terrible, and this one is no different. Modern communication informs us of what’s happening in this war, even though it’s happening far away. It should sadden us, and drive us to pray for those affected, particularly the millions of refugees. And while it shouldn’t drown out tragedies nearer to home, it does provide a scale to place them in perspective.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.