One year ago, on 24 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of Ukraine from three directions - north, east, and south. Putin claims the goal of the invasion is to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, prevent Kyiv from joining NATO, and keep the country within Russia's sphere of influence. Ukraine and Western countries regard the invasion as an unlawful act of aggression against a sovereign nation with a democratically elected government.
The human cost of the conflict
After a year of violence and suffering, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine shows no signs of abating. Neither side seems capable of achieving an outright military victory and negotiations have not led to progress.
Although neither Russia nor Ukraine has released any official figures regarding casualties, an estimate by a US general suggests that around 100,000 soldiers from each side have been killed or injured in the war.
The number of civilian deaths is not entirely clear, but according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)1, there have been 17,994 civilian casualties in Ukraine between 24 February 2022, and 2 January 2023: 6,919 killed and 11,075 injured. The fatalities include 2,737 men, 1,842 women, 1,911 adults killed whose gender remains unidentified, 175 girls, 216 boys, and 38 babies. US estimates2 are even more pessimistic, suggesting approximately 40,000 civilians have lost their lives through being caught up in the conflict.
At the same time, according to the UN, the war in Ukraine has resulted in the fastest and largest displacement of people witnessed in decades. An estimated 14 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes due to the conflict3, which has had a significant impact on the global refugee crisis. The displacement of millions of people also highlights the need for increased support and investment in global refugee and displacement programmes.
Despite the staggering human cost of the conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no sign of backing down. For civilians caught in the middle of the fighting, this means that the suffering and violence, indescribable pain and loss brought by the war will continue with no resolution in sight.
Economic consequences of the war
Supply chain disruptions
The ongoing war in Ukraine has significantly impacted global commodities market, with physical infrastructure damage and sanctions on Russia's commodity complex being the primary factors. The destruction of pipelines and ports has disrupted the delivery of essential commodities, while sanctions have prevented Western customers from purchasing goods from Russia.
In addition to being a dominant supplier of gas to Europe, Russia is also one of the world's largest producers of oil and a crucial supplier of industrial metals such as nickel, aluminium, and palladium. Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat, with Russia and Belarus playing a significant role in the production of potash, a key input in fertilisers.
The impact of supply chain disruptions has been felt across multiple industries, with the energy, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors being the hardest hit. Higher costs and delays in delivery have led to higher prices and reduced availability of essential commodities. In 2022, the average annual price of Brent crude oil reached USD 100.93 dollars per barrel compared to 41.96 in 20204, primarily due to an energy supply shortage in Europe towards the end of 2021 and potential oil supply bottlenecks resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Average annual Brent crude oil price from 2000 to 2022
Millions at risk of food shortages
The ongoing war in Ukraine has aggravated a food crisis that has been brewing since 2018, with the increasing frequency and severity of climate shocks and regional conflicts as major contributing factors, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF)5. The disruptions to grain and fertiliser flow caused by the war have triggered the worst food security crisis since the 2007-2008 global financial meltdown, putting an estimated 345 million people at risk of life-threatening shortages.
According to the IMF, the 48 countries most exposed to food shortages face a combined increase in their import bills of USD 9 billion in 2022 and 2023 due to the abrupt jump in food and fertiliser prices caused by the conflict. This increase will further erode reserves for many fragile and conflict-affected states that already face balance-of-payment problems following on from the pandemic and rising energy costs.
Source: IMF, https://www.imf.org/en/Blogs/Articles/2022/09/30/global-food-crisis-demands-support-for-people-open-trade-bigger-local-harvests
One year after the start of the war in Ukraine, the country remains mired in a bloody conflict with no end in sight. The toll on human lives has been catastrophic, with families torn apart and communities shattered. Thousands of civilians have been killed or injured, while millions have been forced to leave their homes in search of shelter and security.
Beyond the human cost, the war has also had far-reaching economic consequences. Disruptions to supply chains have led to higher prices and reduced availability of essential goods, including food, leaving millions at risk of hunger and malnutrition. The global refugee crisis has been exacerbated by the displacement of millions of Ukrainians, highlighting the urgent need for increased support for refugee and displacement programmes.
As the conflict enters its second year, the world watches with bated breath, hoping for a peaceful resolution to the violence and devastation ravaging Ukraine and its people.
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