Few knock-on effects of the war in Ukraine have proved as consequential as the impact on the global food supply — particularly staples like wheat, barley and sunflower oil, key Ukrainian exports.
As Russian and Ukrainian negotiators hold a rare meeting in Istanbul on Thursday with the aim of freeing enormous stockpiles of grain from Ukraine’s ports, we note this staggering number: 22 million tons of grain are currently stuck in those ports, blocked by Russia’s invasion and subsequent blockade. Russia has also been accused of seizing some of the grain supply for its own uses.
Overland routes and shipping via the Danube River are deemed too slow, hence the negotiations, which are being brokered by Turkey, a key nation both for its geography and strategic ties to both Russia and Ukraine.
There’s limited optimism for any breakthrough, and that can bring a terrible human toll. Millions of people in places like Somalia, Egypt, Lebanon and Afghanistan are struggling to find alternatives to the Ukrainian exports. And Ukrainians are losing much-needed revenue the staples would bring.
Grid’s reporting is based on the best available data and reporting; in some cases, we explained a range of figures or the reason we chose one over another. We originally published this document on March 24 and will update it every Thursday as long as the war persists.
Civilians killed: at least 4,700 (probably thousands more)
On June 7, a Ukrainian official said at least 40,000 Ukrainian civilians had been killed or wounded since the war began. The official offered no breakdown of dead vs. wounded. The United Nations’ estimate of civilians killed is now more than 5,000, but it consistently adds that the figure is an undercount, as is its estimate of total casualties given as more than 10,000. (updated July 12; source, source)
Ukrainian soldiers killed: 10,000 to 11,000
On June 10, top advisers to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy estimated that 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the war began. U.S. intelligence officials have put the number at 5,500 to 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed since the invasion. Also on June 10, a presidential adviser said that Ukraine was losing as many as 200 soldiers each day. (updated June 15; source, source)
Russian soldiers killed: 1,351 to 27,000
Ukraine has raised its estimate of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict to 27,000. NATO has estimated Russian troop losses at between 7,000 and 15,000. Russian officials earlier claimed 1,351 troop losses, though spokesman Dimitry Peskov said there have been “significant losses of troops, and it’s a huge tragedy for us.” (updated May 25; source, source, source)
Russian generals killed: 8 to 13
A retired Russian general was reportedly shot down over Luhansk in late May — by Ukrainian counts the 13th Russian general to be killed in Ukraine. Previously, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that between eight and 10 Russian generals have been killed in Ukraine. Grid’s Tom Nagorski and Joshua Keating previously reported on the possible explanations for this “inconceivable” toll: poor communications and command-and-control structures within the Russian military. (updated May 25; source, source)
Total displaced Ukrainians: about 12 million
There are more than 5.7 million Ukrainian refugees reported in other European countries currently. The International Organization for Migration’s latest survey of internally displaced Ukrainians, in late June, found more Ukrainians returning home, but more than 6 million remain displaced. (updated July 13; source, source)
Internally displaced Ukrainians: 6.2 million
An overview of the violence
Attacks on healthcare facilities: 356
Global food markets: Wheat prices decrease 11 percent since invasion, after weeks of fluctuation
Grid coverage this week
- Drone war in Ukraine: Decoys, spies and flying death machines (July 11)
- Russia’s war in Ukraine is boosting laser enrichment of uranium long seen as a nuclear proliferation threat (July 11)
- ‘We need heavy weaponry’: A top Ukrainian official tells Grid what Kyiv needs to defeat Russia as fierce fighting shifts east (July 8)
- ‘Russkiy mir’: What Putin’s worldview tells us about the war in Ukraine, the Russian people and himself (July 7)
- 3 ways Vladimir Putin has already lost in Ukraine (July 1)
Learn more: Grid’s 360s on the Ukraine War
- 360: What led to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II
- 360: Casualty of war in Ukraine: The global food supply
- 360: War in Ukraine: How we got here — and what may come next
- 360: Russia’s billionaires: Who they are, what they own — and can they influence Vladimir Putin?
- 360: Why danger still looms at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants