10 reasons why Ukraine’s resistance during the first month of the Russian invasion will make the history books

24 March, 03:56 PM
One of the residential buildings in Mariupol, damaged by Russian shelling, March 17, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

One of the residential buildings in Mariupol, damaged by Russian shelling, March 17, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Exactly one month ago, on February 24, 2022, Ukrainians’ sleep was cut short. Before dawn, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, firing rockets into most parts of the country, while simultaneously carrying out a ground offensive.

Four weeks have passed since then. The Kremlin has been unable to implement its original plan to quickly seize Ukraine and change power in the country, resorting to terror tactics and war crimes on a colossal scale. The main obstacle for the invaders proved to be the unity of Ukrainians and the resilience of the Armed Forces, along with other Ukrainian defense forces. The price of resistance has been thousands of civilian casualties, and millions of broken lives, due to the loss of loved ones, homes, and normal ways of life.

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The New Voice of Ukraine lays out the key numbers of the first month of the all-out war with the Russian Federation, which serves as a continuation of the Russian invasion eight years ago following the annexation of Crimea and the attack on the Ukrainian Donbas in 2014.

121 children killed and 167 injured

Child victims are the most terrible statistics of the war, a fact Volodymyr Zelensky never fails to mention in his speeches and addresses to the world. Infants and schoolchildren, teenagers and preschoolers die every day from Russian weapons in Ukraine.

“Imagine what it means to hear a daily report about dead children,” the President of Ukraine said on March 15 in his address to the Parliament and Government of Canada.

“Yes, you may be the president or head of government, but you just keep hearing about it. About the dead children, of which there is more and more every day.”

As of March 23, 121 children have been killed and at least 167 were injured due to enemy actions in Ukraine.

Every day, the Prosecutor General’s Office provides updates on the numbers of injured and dead Ukrainian children – there are dozens of individual tragedies behind them. Here are just a few of them – the most painful pages in the history of this war:

  • On March 15, in the village of Mokhnatyn in Chernihiv Oblast, Russian invaders shot dead three local teenagers, two of them being 17-year-old twin brothers. They were shot from a Russian infantry combat vehicle moving in a convoy of Russian troops.

On March 15, in the village of Mokhnatyn in Chernihiv Oblast, Russian invaders shot dead three local teenagers, two of them being 17-year-old twin brothers. They were shot from a Russian infantry combat vehicle moving in a convoy of Russian troops.

- On March 17, a family with three children died under the rubble of a hostel in Chernihiv. After the shelling of the city, rescuers pulled out their bodies from under the ruins of the building: three-year-old twins, their older sister of 12, and the parents.

  • On March 21, in the Kharkiv Oblast, a Russian tank opened fire on a car carrying a family with two children.

    “The family shouted that they were civilians, waved a white flag, but all in vain,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

    “The parents and their 9-year-old girl were killed, a 17-year-old boy was injured.”

On March 21, in the Kharkiv Oblast, a Russian tank opened fire on a car carrying a family with two children.

“The family shouted that they were civilians, waved a white flag, but all in vain,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

“The parents and their 9-year-old girl were killed, a 17-year-old boy was injured.”

- On March 21, the invaders fired on an evacuation convoy with children who had been
evacuated from Mariupol in the direction of Zaporizhzhya – at least four of those children were admitted to hospital.

1.8 trillion hryvnias ($62.6 billion): a conservative estimate of damage to Ukrainian infrastructure during the one month of war

In the first three weeks of the Russian invasion alone, damage to Ukraine's infrastructure exceeded 1.8 trillion hryvnia ($62.6 billion), as of March 17. This assessment was given by experts from the Kyiv School of Economics, as part of the joint “Russia will pay” project with the Cabinet.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, more than 400 educational institutions, at least 36 healthcare facilities, 1,600 residential buildings, 26 factories and warehouses, 15 airports, 6 thermal power plants and hydroelectric power plants have been damaged, destroyed or captured, according to KSE Institute estimates.

In addition, as a result of the attacks of the Russian army, Ukraine lost:

- over 15,000 kilometers of roads,

- 5,000 kilometers of railway tracks,

- 350 bridges and bridge crossings.

“These calculations are based on an analysis of several thousand public reports from citizens, government, local authorities about losses and damage across the country,” KSE reported.

At the same time, the analysis takes into account only information about damage to infrastructure facilities – without accounting for the damage caused to natural resources, animal husbandry, private product stocks (in warehouses, stores, etc.), movable property, military property, and property of telecom operators.

Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko, in a recent interview with Forbes, noted that the negative consequences of the war for Ukraine would be colossal.

“The 10 oblasts where hostilities are taking place account for half of the GDP,” he pointed out.

“The most important sections are Kharkiv, Kyiv and Mariupol, which made a very significant contribution to GDP. Many supply chains have been completely broken, many enterprises have been physically destroyed, some cannot work in war mode, many employees have simply left. The Ministry of the Economy estimated that the losses would be between a third and a half of GDP. According to another estimate, we are talking about $500 billion. Exact calculations will only be possible after the war.”

About 15,600 personnel – Russian army losses

Such is the General Staff estimate of the number of Russian invaders killed in Ukraine in the first four weeks of the war. Indirectly, these calculations were confirmed even in Russia, after pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda outlet accidentally published a figure of almost 10,000 dead, citing the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The number of wounded is a multiple of two to three of the casualties, according to military experts and former defense minister Andriy Zahorodnyuk.

This means that in just one month of its criminal campaign against Ukraine, Russia has lost more servicemen than in other much longer wars.

To put it into perspective 15,600 casualties and about 30-45,000 wounded are:

- more than the USSR lost in Afghanistan during the 10 years of the war (1979-1989) – then, according to official figures, about 15,000 Soviet troops were killed, approximately 54,000 people were injured.

- more than Russia officially lost in the two Chechen wars. During the first "campaign" in Chechnya in 1994-1996, the Russian Federation had, according to official figures, about 6,000 dead and missing (although the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers claimed 14,000). And during the second Chechen war (the most violent hostilities took place in 1999-2000, the resistance movement existed until 2009), about 7,400 Russian soldiers died.

- more than the U.S. army lost in 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan: during the Iraq campaign of 2003-2011, about 4,500 U.S. soldiers were killed, while in Afghanistan, the American army lost 2,400 servicemen.

Only one major city was temporarily captured during the four weeks of the war – but it also became a symbol of resistance

Even before the start of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, Oleksii Reznikov, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, had to respond to forecasts spread among the Western expert community and the global media about the possible capture of Kyiv and a number of large cities within 2-3 days.

However, a month after the full-scale attack of the Russian Federation, the capital is still holding the line – like the vast majority of the cities of Ukraine – albeit at a heavy price. Kharkiv and Mykolayiv, Zaporizhzhia and Odesa, Chernihiv and Sumy are holding on.

It was only Kherson that the Russian troops managed to enter in the first days of March, capturing the Kherson regional administration building and infiltrating the city districts. However, in those three weeks, it was the city of Kherson that demonstrated just how difficult it would be for the Kremlin to establish an occupation regime even in the occupied Ukrainian territories (which is further testified by the captured cities of Berdyansk and Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia Oblast).

During this time in Kherson:

- the city and oblast authorities refused to cooperate with the invaders (“Kherson councilmembers will never recognize attempts to create a ‘people’s republic’ on the territory of Kherson Oblast and seize parts of Ukraine. We have one thing to say to the invaders: “Follow the Russian warship...,” wrote Mayor Ihor Kolykhaev, after 44 members at a Kherson Regional Council session on March 12 strongly opposed any attempts by the Russians to impose a so-called “Kherson People’s Republic”, a puppet authority in the vein of the Donetsk and Luhansk versions, on the region;

- the efforts of the invaders to organize demonstrative rallies in support of the Russian Federation came to nothing;

- local residents keep attending pro-Ukrainian protests;

- demonstrations under Ukrainian flags continue even despite attempts by the Rosgvardia, or Russia internal security units, to establish an administrative-police regime in Kherson and carry out mass detentions of local residents (as of March 9 alone, 400 Ukrainian citizens were confirmed to be detained);

- on March 21, unarmed participants in an anti-Russian rally were wounded in Kherson for the first time: the invaders opened fire on them and threw grenades into the crowd.

“Today we all saw slaves shooting at free people,” President Volodymyr Zelensky stated, addressing Kherson residents on the evening of March 21.

“Slaves of propaganda that took over their conscience. Slaves who are used to packing everyone in paddy wagons…These slaves, who were sent by Russia, have never seen free people. Kherson, hold on. We will never forget these pictures from the city… As soon as we can break through to you, every invader who fired at civilians in Kherson for carrying the blue and yellow will face a black streak.”

Nearly 1,500 air raids and 500 missiles on Ukrainian cities

Incapable of conducting a blitzkrieg and a quick capture of Kyiv and other large Ukrainian cities, the Russian army this month resorted to the most brutal tactics in Ukraine – the destruction of Ukrainian cities – while avoiding close combat with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, through rocket attacks, air raids, and air bombardments.

According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, published on March 19 (on the 24th day of the invasion), in these weeks, Russia has:

- launched 291 missile strikes on targets in Ukraine,

- used 459 ground, sea, and air-based missiles,

- conducted 1,403 air raids.

The main ground targets of the Russian invaders were Ukrainian cities and villages, and their civilian infrastructure: schools, hospitals, national historical and religious shrines, densely populated residential areas, and industrial infrastructure facilities.

Among the first consequences of these bombings and attacks have been:

- more than 70 damaged residential buildings in Kyiv (as of March 21);

- almost 1,000 destroyed buildings in Kharkiv (972 as of March 21, of which 778 were residential), where Russian missiles and bombs also struck the city’s main administrative buildings and university buildings;

- 139 shelled hospitals, 10 of have been razed to the ground, 43 ambulances also came under fire;

- 548 damaged educational institutions, 72 of which were completely destroyed;

- more than 40 damaged children’s institutions, including medical institutions, art schools, sports facilities, and libraries.

0 surviving buildings, at least 2,400 civilian casualties in Mariupol: statistics of the worst crime of the invaders

During the four weeks of the war, the nearly half a million-strong city of Mariupol – which became has become a living hell for its residents due to a siege and constant attacks by Russian troops – have not left global headlines.

For several weeks now, the city, where only tens of thousands of residents have managed to flee, has been trying to survive without water and electricity, without heating and communications, without food and drinking water. The humanitarian catastrophe in Mariupol, where there are practically no fully functioning hospitals, emergency services, and other city services, has become the largest tragedy in Ukraine in the first month of the war. Even now, at least 100,000 people remain there.

“80-90% of the city was bombed,” reported Serhiy Orlov, deputy mayor of Mariupol, on March 13.

“Not a single building is undamaged. They are either destroyed or damaged.”

According to him, at that time, the city had an officially confirmed death toll of 2,358 people, but in reality, there are many more civilian casualties.

“There are still people under the rubble that we don’t know about,” said Deputy Mayor Orlov.

“Therefore, this figure is probably 1.5-2 times higher. And we bury them mostly in mass graves.”

The head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, also reported that in the vicinity of Mariupol, Ukrainian citizens were dying of starvation due to Russian invaders blockading the city.

Every day the Russian army only adds to its count of war crimes in Mariupol. On March 19, Art School No. 12 came under fire, where 400 civilians were hiding. On March 16, it was the turn of the Drama Theater and the Neptune pool, which also served as shelters for more than 1,000 citizens. On March 22, Russian aviation dropped two high-yield air bombs on the already destroyed city.

The Russians prevent Ukrainian humanitarian supplies from entering Mariupol, and sporadically shoot people who try to leave the city in their own cars. The invaders also put forward an ultimatum to the defenders of the city: first surrender, then they’ll provide humanitarian corridors for the population. Mariupol refused.

“I hope no one ever sees what I saw… Mariupol will add to the list of cities completely destroyed by war. I don’t need to name them – these are Guernica, Coventry, Aleppo, Grozny, Leningrad,” said the Consul General of Greece Manolis Androulakis, who was the last of the EU diplomats to leave the besieged city.

Six hero cities on the map of Ukraine, dozens more hotbeds of stubborn resistance

Not only Mariupol, but also Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Kherson, Hostomel (Kyiv Oblast), and Volnovakha (Donetsk Oblast) have felt the full weight of Russia's blows in the first month of the war.

On March 6, Zelensky granted these six cities the status of heroes – as the most affected by the full-scale Russian invasion. Chernihiv serves as a prime example of the extent of the catastrophe, a city which, as of March 22, was “on the verge of survival,” according to Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova. She reported that after a month of the war, the outskirts of Chernihiv were completely bombarded by Russian troops, while 60% of suburbs had the same fate.

“Half the population left the city, and out of about 130,000 who remained, there are many that are sick and infirm,” Denisova said. In Chernihiv, there is no electricity, no stable water supply, and almost no gas.

Dozens of other cities in Ukraine have also had to confront the enemy under constant shelling in the first month of the war, many of which Zelensky mentioned in his March 21 address.

“Kyiv, courageously and majestically standing over the Dnipro,” Zelensky listed.

“Kharkiv… Proud, neat, educated Kharkiv. Which they batter, but which does not submit in any way. Chernihiv, ancient Chernihiv, since the time of the Horde, has not known such atrocities, which it is now subjected to by the Russian military. Sumy, Okhtyrka and Lebedyn… Izyum, Derhachi… Volnovakha, Popasna… Borodyanka, Hostomel, Makariv… Mykolayiv… Mariupol! We are fighting for every Ukrainian! And we remember everyone! And thank you to each and every one. Both to the people, and those beautiful cities.”

Western sanctions imposed in the first month of the war will set the Russian economy back at least 24 years

The first weeks of the war were a month of historic Western sanctions imposed on Russia and its collaborator Belarus for their shockingly brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. In addition to personal and economic measures against the Russian Federation and its officials, which were introduced by the authorities of the EU, the US, Canada, UK, etc., hundreds of private Western companies have refused to do business with Russia.

This has turned the Russian Federation into the world leader in terms of the number of restrictive measures imposed – Russia is even ahead of Iran and North Korea (3,612 separate measures in the first 18 days since the invasion, and a total of 6,366 sanctions against the Russian Federation since 2014, according to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.)

For the Russian economy, this is a super-heavy blow, even if the peak of its effect is somewhat delayed in time. According to Fitch estimates, the fall of the Russian economy as a result of the war and sanctions will be comparable to the 1998 crisis, almost a quarter of a century ago.

A record 2.2 billion hryvnias ($78.1 million) of public support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine through only one charity

In the first three weeks of the war alone, Ukrainians transferred about 2.2 billion hryvnias ($78.1 million excluding cryptocurrency and cash transfers) to the accounts of the “Come Back Alive” NGO, Ukraine’s largest fund for competent assistance to the army.

This amount was announced on March 21 by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valeriy Zaluzhny.

“These numbers are impressive,” the general recounted.

“And they most clearly illustrate the unity of the nation with its army.”

To put it into perspective, the amount collected by Ukrainians in support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is comparable to the expenses included in Ukraine’s state budget for vaccination against COVID-19 in 2022 (2.6 billion hryvnias or $88.3 million.)

Thanks to Ukrainian unity, the “Come Back Alive” charity was able to spend a part of the funds collected on tens of thousands of units of technical equipment that have already been transferred to Ukrainian defenders. In particular, this includes:

- 7,954 pieces of communication equipments,

- 2,546 helmets,

- 1,293 units of thermal imaging, night and other optics,

- 1,312 body armors,

- 573 quadcopters.

3.5 million Ukrainian refugees in Europe and globally

As Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov warned the international community back in 2021, the Russian invasion of Ukrainian soil triggered the largest migration crisis in Europe in decades. In the first month after the Russian attack, more than 3.5 million people left Ukraine (UN estimate). About 12 million more Ukrainians, according to the Office of the President, were forced to leave their homes and are considered internally displaced persons (the UN estimates this number lower, at 6.5 million people).

However, even conservative estimates are a historical tragedy for Ukraine and Europe.

“You are looking at almost one quarter of the entire population,” Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the United Nations Refugee Agency, said on March 22.

“The speed and the scale of this outflow and this displacement crisis is unprecedented in recent times.”

***

Number of slain Ukrainian heroes

We do not yet know the exact number of defenders of Ukraine who have died, after the whole country woke up on the morning of February 24 to the sounds of the explosions caused by Russian missiles and bombs, just as we do not know the total number of peaceful Ukrainians whose lives have been claimed by the first month of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation. As of March 22, the UN reported 925 dead and 1,500 injured civilians, according to the most conservative estimates. However, these figures are probably many times higher, considering that the Mariupol authorities alone announced at least 2,300 confirmed deaths.

Accurate data will certainly appear later – and will be regularly quoted in international tribunals as evidence of Russia's war crimes – unprecedented for the 21st century.

In the meantime, Ukraine honors the memory of all the dead Ukrainians – military and civilian – every day, with a morning minute of silence at 0900. As noted in the presidential decree stipulating this moment, this is a tiny tribute to the "blessed memory, civic courage and selflessness, fortitude, resilience and heroic deeds" of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as civilians who died as a result of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine.

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