Senior Ukrainian military chiefs have said more than 10,000 of the country’s soldiers have been killed in the country’s nine-month struggle against Russia’s invasion – far below recent casualty estimates from Western leaders.
The figure emerged as Russian forces kept up rocket attacks on infrastructure and air strikes against Ukrainian troop positions along the contact line, the Ukrainian military said.
Officials added that Moscow’s push has focused on a dozen towns including Bakhmut and Avdiivka – key targets for Russia in the east.
Late on Thursday, Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, relayed new figures about Ukrainian soldiers killed in battle, while noting that the number of injured troops was higher and civilian casualty counts were “significant”.
He told Channel 24: “We have official figures from the general staff, we have official figures from the top command, and they amount to between 10,000 and 12,500-13,000 killed.”
The Ukrainian military has not confirmed such figures, and it marks a rare instance of a Ukrainian official providing them.
The last count dates back to late August, when the head of the armed forces said that nearly 9,000 military personnel had been killed.
In June, Mr Podolyak said that up to 200 soldiers were dying each day, in some of the most intense fighting and bloodshed this year.
On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive Commission, said 100,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed before her office corrected her comments – calling them inaccurate and saying that the figure referred to both killed and injured.
Last month, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “well over” 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war so far.
He added that it was the “same thing probably on the Ukrainian side”.
The UN human rights office, in its latest weekly update, said it had recorded 6,655 civilians killed and 10,368 injured, but has acknowledged that its tally includes only casualties that it has confirmed and likely far understates the actual toll.
Ukrainians have been bracing for freezing winter temperatures as Russia’s campaign has recently hit infrastructure including power plants and electrical transformers, leaving many without heat, water and electricity.
Ukraine has faced a blistering onslaught of Russian artillery fire and drone attacks since early October.
The shelling has been especially intense in southern Kherson since Russian forces withdrew and Ukraine’s army reclaimed the southern city almost three weeks ago.
Local authorities said about two-thirds of the city of Kherson had electricity as of Thursday night, after new Russian strikes had cut power that had recently been restored.
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