Ukraine's 2022 civilian death toll has eclipsed the pre-invasion toll in Donbass
Russia's "humanitarian intervention" has now cost more civilian lives than the tragedy it was supposed to stop.
The war in Ukraine reached a crucial milestone this week when its post-invasion death toll passed 3,404. That figure marks the number of civilians who died before the invasion amid the conflict that began in 2014, including those who died in the civil war in Donbas. Today, the post-invasion death toll stands at 3,573.
All of these figures come from reporting by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The pre-invasion figure comes from their last “Conflict-related civilian casualties in Ukraine” report prior to the invasion. The post-invasion figures come from the UN’s daily “Ukraine: civilian casualty update” press releases. Those figures passed the 3,404 mark on Tuesday when the death toll hit 3,459; the latest update came yesterday.
The latest figures strike another serious blow to the case for invasion advanced by the Russian government and its surrogates since February. As President Putin put it in his February 24 declaration of war,
The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime.
This is a standard rationale for humanitarian intervention. And as such, it has faced the same objection from the left that arguments for humanitarian intervention always face: that the “cure” of war will be worse than the disease. That is why we have long called for NATO and Russian forces alike to withdraw from the region, recognizing that their presence can only inflame violence in Ukraine, and that the cost would primarily be borne by innocent civilians. The mounting death toll since the invasion only affirms the wisdom of that stand.