Only 0.2% of Ukraine's landmass has changed hands in 2023, report says, despite thousands dead and billions of dollars spent

  • Less than 500 square miles of Ukrainian land has changed hands this year, per a New York Times analysis.

  • Both sides have remained largely entrenched this year, with small net gains for Russia, it said.

  • It comes with the risk of dwindling Western support as Ukraine's advances slow, an expert said.

Only 0.2% of Ukraine's landmass has changed hands this year, according to an analysis by The New York Times, based on data from the Institute for the Study of War.

This puts into stark contrast how little the front line in Ukraine has actually moved, despite the huge resources each side has thrown at the conflict, including soldiers, money, and weaponry.

From January 1 to September 25, Ukraine recaptured just 143 square miles of territory, while Russia took 331 square miles, resulting in a net gain of 188 miles for Russia, according to the newspaper.

188 square miles is about the size of Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city, which has a total area of 189.5 square miles, according to the US Census Bureau.

In contrast, Ukraine has a total landmass of about 233,030 square miles.

The report shows Russia capturing about 100 square miles per month earlier this year, coinciding with its winter offensive campaign to capture the eastern Donbas region.

According to data from the ISW shared with Insider in March, Russia expanded its territory in Ukraine by about 0.04% in February 2023.

It continued to make advances until June, when Ukraine turned the tide in its favor with the start of its counteroffensive, the newspaper's report shows.

This culminated in August, when the least territory changed hands in any of the months, it said.

The analysis comes on the back of lethal and bloody fights on the front lines and tens of billions of dollars spent since the beginning of the conflict.

Since the start of the war there have been about 500,000 military casualties, US officials told The New York Times in August, with 300,000 Russians and 190,000 on the Ukrainian side. These included dead and injured.

The US has spent more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine since the start of the conflict, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

Ukrainian forces are currently focusing their efforts on breaching Russia's heavily fortified defensive lines in occupied territories in southern and eastern Ukraine.

But the apparent slowdown of Ukrainian progress comes with the risk that Western backing will dwindle due to a lack of political will or a reluctance to provide more weapons, Marina Miron, a postdoctoral researcher in war studies at King's College London, told The Times.

"Russia is trying to wait out until the West turns its back," she said.

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