When Will Russia Run Out of Soldiers? Tanks?

There are estimates that Russia has lost 40,000 soldiers (killed or wounded) out of 190,000 after the first three weeks of the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia has 900,000 in the military but this includes Navy and Air Force. Russia has about 250,000-300,000 in the Army. Russia has 2 million in reserve but those are mostly x-conscripts and 14 million men of military age (18-30).

Independent UK and many other sources cite a senior NATO official estimate of up to 40000 Russian Casualties.

NATO and US estimates of 7000 to 15000 Russian war dead. (via AP).

According to Oryx, as of March 23, 2022, Russia has lost somewhere in the region of 279 tanks, of which 116 have been destroyed, 4 damaged, 41 abandoned. Some 118 have been captured. (via interesting engineering and other sources.

Putting more untrained people into this conflict will just get most of them killed. One of the Russian problems is the poor training of its military. The other aspect is that the death and wounded rates could go up if Russia commits to major urban warfare. If the supply line situation is as bad as some reports indicate then the 70,000 soldiers in the north could run out of ammo and food and collapse. This would mean a lot killed, wounded and captured.

Russia started the war with 1200 Tanks committed to the conflict. Russia had about 2800 active tanks. They had about 10,000 Soviet-era tanks in storage. Those tanks in storage were not modernized and are even more crappy that what Russia has been losing. Russia has lost 270-500 tanks already. All of Russia’s tanks are vulnerable to Javelin missiles. There are 17000 Javelin missiles in the Ukrainian army now.

Russia has lost 100 planes and Russian pilots are flying very defensively. They are trying to avoid getting shotdown instead of focusing on military objectives.

Putin/Russia should already cut a peace deal and withdraw. Losing the northern Army (70,000) would be an even greater catastrophe. Going into Kyiv or any other major city in urban combat would also ratchet up the losses.

It took Russia twenty years to make 2800 modern tanks.

The current pace of losses cannot be sustained for more than two more months. Four more weeks of losses at this pace is devastating as half of the soldiers they went in with would be injured or dead. Russia is already digging into defensive positions. Unless there is a significant improvement in strategy and tactics there is no way that even with 50,000 or 100,000 new conscripts or other force replacements would a second offensive be effective in taking Kyiv or other major Ukrainian cities.

It is even difficult to see how Putin/Russia could sustain a campaign with annual losses like the first month of this war.

Historical and Other Comparisons

The Ukraine War is different from WW2 in several ways. The Soviets lost 5 million men twice by getting almost all of their army wiped out by the Germans in encirclements. The Soviet army fought a retreating war as they get factories set up in Siberia and rebuilt tanks and trucks and weapons with support from US lend/lease.

In WW2 the Soviet Army (included Russia, Ukraine and several other countries) perceived the war as an existential war. Russia is now attacking Ukraine. Ukrainian and Russian people share a common ancestry. The people are as close as Canada and the USA.

The total population of the Soviet Union in 1941 was 195 million people and fell to about 170 million in 1946 due to the devastation of the WW2. The current population of Russia is about 140 to 146 million. The population numbers could be inflated. The average age in Russia is now 40.

Not only did the USSR’s population fall as a consequence of the war, but fertility and birth rates also dropped due to the disruption. Hypothetical estimates suggest that, had the war not happened and had fertility rates remained on their pre-war trajectory, then the USSR’s population in 1946 would have been 39 million higher than in reality. The Soviet male population fell from 94 million in 1941, to 74 million in 1946, and the female population fell from 102 to 96 million. The male and female populations fell by 19 and 5 million. Hypothetical estimates suggest that both populations would have grown by seven million each had there been no WW2.

The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers was created in the 1980s during the Russian Afghanistan War (under Gorbachev). The grieving mothers rebelled when there were 15000 soldier deaths. There are current reports that there are already 15,000 Russian soldier deaths.

Russia’s fertility rate fell to about 1.2 after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Most military-age men in Russia are only children.

There is no way the Russian population will accept anything like the military mobilization under Stalin. Russia is losing people faster than Ukraine and Russia will run out of the effective population to mobilize before Ukraine. Raising secondary forces and reserves will be far less effective than even the current poor showing. A wood chipper will not lose when you toss more wood into it.

The US had 7000 deaths in the combined Afghanistan-Iraq wars over twenty years.
The US had 47000 deaths in the Vietnam War over twenty years.
The US had 33000 deaths in the Korean War.
The US had 53000 deaths in WW1.
The US had 291000 deaths in WW2.

In WW1, Russian Empire lost 1,811,000 total Russian Empire military and 1,500,00 civilian deaths according to Soviet demographer Boris Urlanis. Russian Empire included Ukraine and a lot of other countries.
WW1 Russian Empire Populatiopn by modern countries
Russia 67,476,000 (from this Siberia 5,758,822)
Ukraine 23,430,407 (from this Crimea 1,447,790)
Poland (Vistula basin) 9,402,253
Belarus 6,927,040
Kazakhstan 4,000,000
Lithuania 3,135,771
Georgia 2,109,273
Uzbekistan 2,000,000
Moldova 1,935,412
Latvia 1,929,387
Azerbaijan 1,705,131
Estonia 900,000
Armenia 797,853
Kyrgyzstan 750,000
Tajikistan 646,000
Turkmenistan 350,000

SOURCES- Wikipedia, Brian Wang analysis, AP, Independent, CBS News, Interesting Engineering, Oryx, NATO
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com