A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 2, 2022

Doing the Math: The Daily Military Cost To Russia Of Its Ukraine Invasion

The likely daily financial cost to Russia of its Ukraine invasion is between $994 million and $539 million. 

The question of how long a relatively mediocre economy based primarily on resource extraction - and now cut off from most of its export markets - can continue to fund that 'investment' is a good one. And one that arbitrageurs in opposing countries increasingly believe is not just unsustainable but potentially ruinous. JL 

Tomi Ahonen reports in Twitter:

Realistic daily cost: Fuel $10M* Artillery $119M** Mortar $24M** Missiles $120M Oth ammo $8M** Compensation $23M Mercenaries $1M Equipment lost $230M Total daily cost: $539MAs Putin's invasion war into Ukraine has passed 2 months, the fog of war is lifting somewhat. We can make a preliminary calculation of the monetary cost to Russia of this war (beyond lives & injuries, military & civilian) Let's do some math, shall we?
We have several tidbits of info, daily military equipment losses like this chart published by Kyiv Independent. Some of those numbers at times confirmed or similar numbers come out from Russia (rapidly deleted). I trust these are close to truth.
There have been many supportive calculations such as a regular update of visually confirmed losses out of photographs & video. And separately, various sources calculated totals, and Forbes calculated costs of various equipment losses such as this chart.
As the war has dragged on, we have also found out most of the Russian Army units serving in Ukraine, and these are collected for example onto Wikipedia which lists the full Russian organization by unit & commander.That gets us to a fairly confident number, that it was about 190,000 troops Russia sent to invade Ukraine on 24 February 2022. That includes bandits, gangsters & terrorists from the Donbas region joining the Russian mission against Ukraine.


I have seen some numbers of Russian equipment which does not tally with 190,000 total army size (the numbers are too low). So I stick to my estimate. For an army of 190,000 you need 19,000 armored vehicles. There's a simple rule of thumb to divide that. The Russian order of battle is designed to allow every soldier to fight inside a contaminated combat environment. So there has to be a seat for every soldier, inside. Thus use this rule: 30% tanks 40% armored personnel carriers 20% artillery 10% other.


Thus I stick to my estimate, on 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine with: 5,700 tanks 7,600 armored personnel carriers 3,800 self-propelled artillery & mortar units 1,900 other incl Anti-Air, Recce, MLRS, command, bridging, repair etc vehicles.


Those numbers can be off by many hundreds per category, but will unlikely be off by a thousand in either direction Two classes impact the cost of combat. Tanks consume far more fuel than others And artillery consumes BY FAR the most ammunition. In fighting a war, for Russian army, the artillery cost is so huge, more than HALF of all supply is JUST artillery. Second most is mortar rounds, then comes fuel, then other munitions such as rockets, missiles, tank ammunition, rifle rounds & food. So the single biggest factor in deciding how much the Russian army is costing Putin, is how much there is artillery fired. Not the cost of paying families for the dead, or paying for mercenaries from Syria, or paying for jet fuel etc. Artillery...


But the biggest unknown, that I could not estimate for you, was the cost of missiles. They are very expensive, and there is no 'standard allocation' formula. I was unable to calculate our costs, until I had this number. Forbes gave it to us 2 days ago. Forbes caculated that the total cost of the missiles fired by Russia in the war so far (at 62 days) was $7.5 Billion dollars. That is $120 million dollars per day in smart weapon costs per day. Note Forbes estimate is on low end, it is likely more.


Let's start with fuel. Russian Air Force started war flying 200 combat jet missions per day. That went up to 300 per day from mid March. Let's use 267 as our average missions flown.
With mix of high performance twin engine jet fighters like Su 27 derivatives, that use about 10 tons of fuel per mission, & smaller subsonic ground attack jets like Su 25 that use 4 tons, I get 2.3 million liters (605,000 gallons) of jet fuel per day. Add the helicopters, say 1 million more liters per day, at 3.3 million liters say same in dollars. $3.3M in jet fuel Next the tanks. Russian tanks have about 1,100 liter fuel tank. If every tank consumes one tankful per day, it is 6.3 million liters. hat is 5,700 tanks. All other 13,300 armored vehicles consume only 5.9 million liters per day, combined. You see in terms of fuel costs, gas guzzlers for Russian military are the tanks Total fuel costs per day $15.5 million dollars for this military.


Now lets look at ammunition costs Each artillery piece would have a fire allotment of 250 rounds per day, to be able to fire 50 minutes per day, at 5 rounds per minute (they do not fire continuously) Of the 3,800 self-propelled indirect fire. Of the 3,800 units half are self-propelled artillery, half are self-propelled mortar units. 1,900 artillery x 250 rounds would fire 475,000 rounds per day. That is about 24 thousand TONS per day Cost? $475 million dollars per day if every gun sings. It is rare for all guns to fire their daily allotment, but in heavy battle, many units will expend their total daily allowance. So potentially $475 million per day in artillery round costs, in reality it will be a fraction of that per day. Mortar also 1,900 units x 250 rounds per day, is about 5,000 tons of munitions. Cost if every mortar fired full allotment that day, would be $95 million dollars. All other rounds are FAR less per day, like tank ammo, bullets for rifles & machine guns.


All other traditional munitions combined will cost a small fraction of the artillery & mortar, because they are fired only when targets are seen. Let's use $30 million to cover all other munitions (will be less) Add the $120 million in missile costs.


Next lets take payments for the dead. Russia promised to pay $41,000 euros per dead Russian soldier and $28,000 euros if (permanently) injured. We see 365 dead on ave per day. Those are not all Russians (includes mercenaries etc). I guess 288 Russians. Using the ratio we found, 1.72 injured vs dead for Russian army, that gives 481 injured per day. These result in daily compensation cost of $11.8M for KIA and $11.2M for injured, total $23 million per day Slightly more in level than daily fuel costs. Then lets add the mercenaries. 20,000 hired from Syria, Libya etc to go & die in Ukraine. Paid on average $1,800 dollars per month. This mercenary army costs $36 million dollars.. per month Only $1.2 million per day True. They're cheap cannon fodder.


Then let's add the lost equipment. This will sting a bit. That Moskva boat alone cost $750 million. So out of total gear Russia has lost so far, I estimate actual cost paid by Russia was $10.0B up to now, but replacement cost is $14.7 Billion dollars. $14.7 Billion is the real equipment cost, because this gear will need to be replaced by Russian military, it was their latest weapons. They cannot take obsolete tanks from storage to use for next decades. That comes to a daily cost of $230 million.
There also are salaries paid to Russian professional soldiers and allowances for conscripts, but those would have to be paid for the same soldiers under peacetime serving somewhere in Russia. So I will not include those costs


Now lets total these upIf we assume full fuel used daily & total daily ammunition used, then costs: Fuel $16M* Artillery $475M* Mortar $95M* Missiles $120M Oth ammo $30M Compensation $23M Mercenaries $1M Equipment lost $230M Total daily cost: $994M* * reality will be less. Realistic daily cost: Fuel $10M* Artillery $119M** Mortar $24M** Missiles $120M Oth ammo $8M** Compensation $23M Mercenaries $1M Equipment lost $230M Total daily cost: $539M * 2/3 of maximum daily * 1/4 of maxium daily


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