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The Oxford English Dictionary defines “war” as: (1) A state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country; (2) a state of competition or hostility between different people or groups, or (3) a sustained campaign against an undesirable situation or activity. There are many possible reasons for war to begin between—or more often, within—nations. Among these are economic gain, territorial gain, religion, nationalism, civil war, and political revolution. Often, countries’ leaders become primary motivators of conflict by instigating a territorial dispute, trying to control another country’s natural resources, or exercising authoritarian power over people.
Not all wars are formalized with official declarations of war between combatants. Conversely, not every ongoing armed conflict is classified as a war. This article will use the Uppsala Conflict Data Program definition, which described war as “a state-based conflict or dyad which reaches at least 1000 battle-related deaths in a specific calendar year.” Fatality figures include any combatants killed in action as well as any civilians who were deliberately killed (for example, by bombings or other attacks).
On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation began a military invasion of Ukraine, escalating a conflict that had been simmering since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. After officially recognizing the separatist Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk on February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on what he termed a “peacekeeping” mission, which escalated to a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24.
The initial attacks were composed of missile volleys, soon followed by ground troops and armored units which entered Ukraine from both Russia and Belarus and appeared to be targeting Ukraine’s captial city of Kiev. By Feb. 24, Russian forces had taken control of the Chernobyl nuclear power facility. As of the evening of Feb. 25, Russian forces had also overtaken an airfield near Kyiv and were expected to take control of the city within days, if not hours.
However, those expectations proved inaccurate. The Ukrainian people, urged to resist by President Volodymyr Zelensky, fought with great conviction and effectiveness. The frozen ground began to thaw, creating muddy, boggy soil that limited the ability of tanks and other heavy armored vehicles. Russia also had great difficulty keeping supply lines running smoothly—a concern amplified by the fact that, according to some reports, Russia’s ground forces entered Ukraine carrying with only a three-day supply of fuel. Many Russian tanks, for instance, simply ran out of fuel and were abandoned. Moreover, reports came of Russian soldiers who chose to surrender rather than fire upon Ukranians, whom they regarded as countrymen (because Ukraine is a former Soviet Republic). Together, these factors delayed what Russia reportedly planned to be a swift takeover.
As of March 11, Kyiv still had not fallen. Russia had, however, escalated its efforts. It had reportedly broken cease-fire agreements, has admitted to launching thermobaric rockets, and has begun attacking civilian targets including a known evacuation route and a maternity hospital. Also as of March 11, more than 2.3 million Ukranians had fled the country, seeking refuge predominantly in Poland (1.4 million refugees) but also in Hungary, Slovakia, and other European countries—including, somewhat paradoxically, Russia.
The majority of the world’s countries, as well as organizations including NATO, the European Union, and the Council of Europe, have strongly condemned Russia’s actions. Many countries are sending military supplies and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but have not yet sent troops to assist in the country’s defense.
The United States, Germany, and several other nations have also imposed massive economic sanctions against Russia, such as boycotting the purchase of Russian oil and wheat and locking Russian banks out of the financial network SWIFT, thereby limiting their ability to conduct international transctions. Supply chain shortages caused by these sanctions have sent the price of gasoline, as well as certain foods, to record highs in many places around the globe. However, the greated financial impact is happening in Russia itself, where the ruble is plummeting in value and the already struggling economy is undergoing tremendous strain. Many countries have also levied sanctions against Putin himself, as well as various other high-level Russian politicians and oligarchs.
Countries currently at war (as of September 2021):
Category: 10,000+ casualties in 2020/2021
Type: Civil War/Terrorist Insurgency
The war in Afghanistan has been on and off since 1978. The most recent phase began in 2001 and has primarily revolved around U.S. and U.N. forces and allied Afghan troops fighting Taliban insurgents. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), there were 30,936 confirmed fatalities in 2020 alone. The U.S./U.N. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 should signal the end of this particular conflict, but war between the Taliban and other factions, including ISIL-K, which bombed the airport in Kabul during U.S. evacuations, is expected to continue.
Type: Civil War
Tension between clashing political parties in Ethiopia escalated into a violent civil war in November 2020. Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia to the north, has also sent troops into the conflict. The violence has spilled over into neighboring countries, with isolated skirmishes taking place in Sudan and Somalia. Named the “Tigray War”, after the region in which it began, the war had resulted in more than 9,000 documented casualties (though some sources estimate more than 50,000) by September 2021. Reports indicate war crimes are common.
Type: Drug War
The Mexican Drug War is an ongoing conflict between the Mexican government and multiple powerful and violent drug trafficking cartels. It is estimated that the war on drugs has led to at least 350,000 deaths—with more than 72,000 people still missing—from January 2006 to May 2021.
Yemen [also involved: Saudi Arabia]
Type: Civil War
The Yemeni Civil War began in September 2014 when the the Houthi armed movement took control of Sanaa, the capital city and seat of the existing government, led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Both factions claim to be the official Yemeni government. Saudi Arabia intervened in support of Hadi in early 2015, leading a coalition of Asian and African countries, with intelligence and logistical support from the United States. ACLED has counted more than 140,000 fatalities since the start of the war, including nearly 20,000 in 2020 alone.
Category: 1,000 to 10,000 casualties in 2020/2021
There are several countries at war due to a terrorist insurgency: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq (also political unrest), Libya (also civil war), Mali (also civil war), Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Tunisia. Colombia, Myanmar, and Syria are in the midst of civil wars, as well as Libya and Mali. Colombia’s war is also a drug war. South Sudan is at war due to ethnic violence.
Countries Currently At War 2022
|Country||Type||Casualty Range 2020-2021|
|Afghanistan||Civil War/Terrorist Insurgency||10,000+|
|Algeria||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Burkina Faso||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Cameroon||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Chad||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Colombia||Civil War/Drug War||1,000 – 10,000|
|DR Congo||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Iraq||Terrorist Insurgency/Political Unrest||1,000 – 10,000|
|Libya||Civil War||1,000 – 10,000|
|Mali||Civil War/Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Mozambique||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Myanmar||Civil War||1,000 – 10,000|
|Niger||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Nigeria||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|South Sudan||Ethnic Violence||1,000 – 10,000|
|Syria||Civil War||1,000 – 10,000|
|Tanzania||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
|Tunisia||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 – 10,000|
Countries Currently At War 2022