Staunton, February 8 – German intelligence services estimate that 50,000 people have died in the war in Ukraine so far, a figure almost ten times larger than that offered by Ukrainian or other sources, according to a report in today’s “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.” (faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/ukraine-sicherheitskreise-bis-zu-50-000-tote-13416132.html).
According to the German paper, earlier figures provided by the United Nations and the Ukrainian government have understated the size of the losses and are not trustworthy. It says that its sources in German intelligence point to the fact that after major battles, each side says it lost fewer than ten fatalities when in fact there were dozens killed on both sides.
The most recent Ukrainian government statements suggest that 5400 civilians and 1200 military personnel have died, while the United Nations gives as the total for both civilians and military personnel at 5400.
One death from Putin’s actions in Ukraine is too many. 5400 or 6600 are horrific. But the figure of 50,000, if it only approximates the real losses, leaves one at a loss for words and forces one to ask: how many more people will have to die in Putin’s war in Ukraine before Western countries call things by their right names and respond appropriately?
What has happened is an invasion. What is taking place is a war. And consequently what must happen is that the aggressor must be expelled by international pressure if possible but by military means if there is no other way. Those who have died so far and those who remain alive deserve no less than that.
It is a mark of progress that Western leaders want to end the bloodshed, that they see such violence as completely unacceptable in Europe. But it is a mark of how far the West has to go that in its rush to end the fighting, it may be willing to lend legitimacy to Putin’s aggression rather than defend the victim of his actions.
If that happens – and there are all too many signs that some in the West are prepared to sacrifice Ukraine in the name of ending the bloodshed – far more lives will be lost because the West will have failed to live up not only to its responsibilities as undertaken in the Budapest Memorandum but also to the principles on which the international system has rested.
And consequently, Western leaders would do well to focus on the enormous human losses the Kremlin leader is responsible for and also on the fact, highlighted by Yuliya Latynina yesterday, that “Russian peacekeepers unlike UN ones are a guarantee that the conflict will remain unresolved” (echo.msk.ru/programs/code/1488398-echo/).