For all the sanctions imposed against Russia since its invasion of Ukraine, and all the costs of its nearly yearlong war, Russia has kept its financial coffers well stocked — thanks in large part to strong exports of energy and food staples. That’s why this week’s news from the Russian finance ministry made headlines: Russia ran a severe budget deficit in 2022 — its second-worst fiscal performance since the breakup of the Soviet Union three decades ago.
The obvious reason: a spike in several war-related expenditures, as the conflict drags on far longer than the Kremlin had anticipated.
The numbers? Russia’s 2022 deficit reached 3.3 trillion rubles ($47 billion), or 2.3 percent of gross domestic product, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said during a Tuesday briefing. A year prior, Russia had enjoyed a $6.7 billion surplus. According to the business newspaper RBC, Russian federal spending jumped by more than 6 trillion rubles ($92 billion) in 2022. Siluanov said the increases “were mainly aimed at helping the population,” including the families of troops fighting Ukraine.
Others took issue with that characterization. According to Bloomberg, outside analysts say the numbers have more to do with big increases in defense and security spending.
How damaging is this for Russia? It’s nothing like the catastrophic collapse that many economists had forecast when the raft of sanctions were imposed last spring. And perhaps unsurprisingly, Russian officials tried to paint a positive picture this week. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that “overall, those indicators aren’t bad.” And for his part, Siluanov, the finance minister, said that “despite the geopolitical situation, the restrictions and sanctions, we have fulfilled all our planned goals.”
The problem for Russia is that such expenses are only likely to rise — be it for funds for a larger mobilization, ammunition stocks, or the purchase of more weapons and maintenance of existing weaponry. Already, RBC reports that military spending is expected to jump by nearly 5 trillion rubles ($71 billion) in 2023, with spending on domestic security and law enforcement expected to soar by nearly the same amount. All of which means the deficit may grow as well.
We offer a comprehensive set of data points on the war in Ukraine below. Grid originally published this document March 24, the one-month anniversary of the war. We update it every Thursday to provide a fuller picture of the conflict.
Civilians killed: at least 6,900 (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 versus wounded civilians. The United Nations’ latest estimate of civilians killed is more than 6,900, but it consistently notes the figure is an underestimate, as is its estimate of total casualties — a combination of deaths and injuries — given as more than 18,000. (Updated Jan. 11; source, source, source.)
Ukrainian soldiers killed: at least 13,000
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, estimated in early December that as many as 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the war began. In early November, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, estimated that both sides had seen about 100,000 soldiers killed or injured. (Updated Dec. 7; source, source.)
Russian soldiers killed: between 5,937 and 112,000
From the early days of the war, casualty counts for Russian soldiers have varied widely — depending on the source. Ukraine raised its estimate of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict to more than 112,000 on Wednesday. These numbers have been updated frequently through the Facebook page for the country’s General Staff of the Armed Forces. In its first update on casualties since March, Russia claimed in late September that there had been 5,937 Russian military deaths. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in April that there had been “significant losses of troops, and it’s a huge tragedy for us.”
A report by Meduza, an independent Russian media outlet, and the Russian branch of the BBC confirmed at least 10,000 dead Russian soldiers as of Dec. 9.
Russia has also suffered a high rate of casualties among senior officers. Thirteen Russian generals have been killed, according to Ukrainian authorities; the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency puts the figure at eight to 10. 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 Jan. 11; source.)
Total displaced Ukrainians: approximately 14 million
There are more than 7.9 million Ukrainian refugees currently reported in other European countries. United Nations data indicates more than 17 million Ukrainians have crossed the border since the start of the war, but millions have returned home, largely from Poland, as Nikhil Kumar and Kseniia Lisnycha reported. In late October, the International Organization for Migration’s latest survey of internally displaced Ukrainians found more Ukrainians returning home from within Ukraine, but 5.9 million remained displaced within their own country. (Updated Jan. 11; source; source.)
Internally displaced Ukrainians: approximately 5.9 million
An overview of the violence
Global food markets: Wheat prices down as of Wednesday, after weeks of fluctuation
Recent Grid coverage
- In a new era of global conflict, U.S. troops are deployed in dozens of countries. Where are they — and why? (Jan. 9)
- World in Photos: Vladimir Putin declares a ceasefire — and Ukrainians head for underground shelters (Jan. 6)
- Did smartphones get dozens of Russian soldiers killed? Armies around the world are struggling to keep troops off their phones. (Jan. 4)
- Putin’s New Year’s nightmare: How Ukraine shocked Russia with a deadly barrage of missiles (Jan. 3)
- What’s the most important lesson of the war in Ukraine? Fifteen experts gave us their answers. (Dec. 23)
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