Russian forces now occupy one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory, President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday, while claiming that Russia has suffered massive losses since the February 24th invasion.
Speaking in a video message to the parliament of Luxembourg, the Ukraine’s president lamented that his country is facing “virtually” the entire Russian military, and urged the West to send modern weapons “that will ensure the superiority of our state over Russia”.
“Russian troops entered 3,620 settlements in Ukraine. 1,017 of them have already been liberated. Another 2,603 are to be released. As of today, about 20 per cent of our territory is under the control of the occupiers. Almost 125 thousand square kilometres,” said Zelensky.
Almost 12 million Ukrainians have become internally displaced persons. More than 5 million, mostly women and children, have gone abroad.
Russia has carried out 2,478 missile strikes on Ukraine since the February 24th invasion, Zelensky claimed.
The Russian army has already destroyed almost the entire Donbas. This once one of the most powerful industrial centres in Europe is simply devastated. The occupiers are destroying it city after city.”
“Just look at the city of Mariupol. There were half a million people, ordinary peaceful life in an important industrial city. Now, there are burnt out ruins. And we still don’t even know exactly how many of our people were killed by the occupiers. At least tens of thousands – tens of thousands in a little less than 100 days.”
While elaborating on the damage suffered by Ukraine during the war, Zelensky also highlighted Russian causalities, claiming that over 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed thus far.
“The occupiers’ death toll is already more than 30,000 soldiers. That’s greater than the death toll of the Soviet Union in 10 years of war in Afghanistan. Greater than Russia’s death toll in two Chechen wars. But this does not stop Russia. This state is still ready to lose and kill, kill people,” he said.
NATO estimates of Russia’s casualties are roughly half of those offered by Zelensky, with the British Defence Ministry estimating in late May that as many 15,000 Russian soldiers may have died in the war with Ukraine.
But NATO officials also said May 23rd that Russia’s losses could be as low as 7,000 dead – less than a quarter of Ukraine’s estimate.