The death toll of the Russian war in Ukraine has now exceeded that of both the Vietnam War and the Afghan War. The U.S. suffered 58,000 dead troops in its nearly twenty-year war in Vietnam. The Afghan security forces lost 69,000 troops in its twenty-year war against the Taliban. And according to U.S. estimates, Ukraine’s military has now suffered 70,000 dead troops from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Russia suffering about 120,000 dead troops. Yet this most brutal war in Ukraine has only lasted one-and-a-half years to date.
I say “brutal” because I was a medic in the U.S. Army active duty. Ukraine medical personnel in this war can hardly even get to their wounded, let alone evacuate them to first-aid stations and then military hospitals. The reason is the advances in weaponry that occur due to increased technology. A few years ago, there were no drones flying around. Now, the Russians have hundreds of armed drones roaming the skies of eastern and southern Ukraine that can view and shoot at anything that moves. And Russians have buried dreaded minefields surrounding their dug-in fortifications. So, Ukrainian ground troops don’t even want to go into those Russian-occupied areas, as if to attack Russian soldiers. They prefer to stay at arms-length and fire heavy artillery, which leads to a war-of-attrition.
Ukraine and its allies had been preparing for a spring and summer offensive that they hoped would drive Russian troops out of much of eastern Ukraine, where they are dug in, thus using the age-old method of trench warfare. Mostly the U.S. has been arming the Ukraine military with its much-needed military weapons to fight the bigger, bully foe—Russia. But this offensive has not gone as well as was hoped. This whole war scene in Ukraine is becoming the worst nightmare. It is looking more and more like this war in Ukraine is becoming a war-of-attrition.
As a Christian who specializes in the study of Bible prophecy, war always reminds me of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse recorded in the three New Testament gospels (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). This teaching was an elaborate prophecy about the future that Jesus delivered privately to his apostles a few days before his crucifixion death. It included several items, some general and some specific, that would occur before the age would end with his so-called “second coming.” One of those general prophecies was this one—“you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for this must take place; but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24.6 NRSV).
With the human advances in science and so much of human life on this planet called Earth, one would think that humans could learn to get along with each other so that wars would cease all together. But not so. InDepthNews reported recently (6/7/23), “The death toll from military conflicts worldwide is frighteningly high—over 237,000 battle-related deaths in 2022 alone, mostly from the wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia. . . . more state-based conflict, battle-related deaths took place in 2022 than any year since 1994. . . . . the United Nations, which is mandated to maintain international peace and security, has failed in resolving some of the ongoing military conflicts and civil wars—including in Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia and Sudan—primarily because of the new cold war in the UN Security Council: China and Russia on one side, and the western powers, the US, UK and France, on the other.
Right now, more than usual, the UN is failing its purpose of being a peace-keeping mission in the world because the idea of the Security Council is not working. It, too, reminds me of Jesus saying, “you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.”