War by the Numbers: Why Isn’t Russia Winning?


Photo of Professor Engelhardt during Q and A. Photo courtesy of Lydia Marti

On Wednesday, February 22, at 5 p.m., room 217 of Koren was packed with students, staff, and community members alike. Professor Michael Engelhardt presented his analytical view of the war in Ukraine. Engelhardt explained the importance of such a lecture. 

“I’m the only war scholar that I know of in Northeast Iowa,” Engelhardt said. “I thought I ought to do something to talk about what was going on, given my informed perspective, to help make sense of it all.”

This lecture was originally scheduled for last semester; however, due to snowy conditions, it was rescheduled for this year. The war in Ukraine is a staple of modern politics and Luther College students welcomed an extra opportunity to learn about the greater world despite the change in scheduling. Some of the attendees were current or previous students of Engelhardt’s. First year student Sam Scheffler (‘26) was one of several students who attended. 

“I have learned so much from lectures like these, both in and out of the classroom,” Scheffler said. “I learned more about outside of the United States and what our external relations are, and I’m really happy Luther College has the opportunities for us.”

Many staff were also in attendance. Assistant Professor of Music Adrianna Tam came to learn more about the current state of this conflict. Tam expressed her pride in Luther students in a brief interview following the event. 

“I was really impressed by some of the questions that students asked,” Tam said. “It gave me a lot of hope to see people asking those questions and paying attention to things outside of our region, making a big impact in the global community.” 

Throughout his presentation, Engelhardt articulated that this was in fact a “war of numbers”. Despite all the other elements of power including economic and political dominance, Russia simply lacks the numbers to conquer Ukraine in its current state. Engelhardt was clear that the research which he presented could not accurately be used to make a prediction of the war’s outcome. Rather, Engelhardt used his findings to acknowledge the state of conflict as we see it today. 

“From the beginning, I knew this was going to be horrendous,” Engelhardt said. “In some ways it’s better since the Ukrainians have held their ground, but in some ways it’s worse because the casualty rates are so high on both sides.”

As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, more information comes out every day. To learn about future events here at Luther regarding the current conflict, visit Luther College Events online.