KYIV, Ukraine – NATO on Wednesday estimated that 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops had been killed in four weeks of fighting in Ukraine, with fierce resistance from the country’s defenders denying Moscow a thunderbolt victory.
By comparison, Russia has lost about 15,000 troops in Afghanistan in 10 years.
A senior NATO military official said the alliance’s estimates were based on information obtained by Ukrainian authorities, which Russia had disclosed – intentionally or not – and intelligence gathered from open sources. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Ukraine has released little information about its own military casualties, and the West has not given an estimate, but President Volodymyr Zelensky said about two weeks ago that about 1,300 Ukrainian troops had been killed.
When Russia launches its aggression on February 24, Europe’s biggest attack since World War II, the Ukrainian government looks set to fall sharply. But with a full four weeks of fighting on Wednesday, Moscow is stuck in a humiliating military operation.
Zelensky – who drew world attention with ad hoc video and speeches in the legislature seeking military assistance for his country – seized the anniversary to urge people around the world to rally in support of Ukraine on Thursday, saying the war had “broken the heart of every free man on the planet.” “
“Come to your courtyard, to your street. Make yourself visible and audible, “Zelensky said in English in an emotional video address to the nation recorded in the dark near Kiev’s presidential office. “People are important. Freedom is important. Peace is important. Ukraine is important.”
Speaking in Russian, Zelensky appealed to the Russians to “leave Russia so that your taxes are not paid during the war.” Thousands of Russians have already fled the country since the war began, fearing a sharp crackdown on dissent, including the arrest of thousands of anti-war protesters and the crackdown on the media.
Zelensky, who will speak to NATO members via video on Thursday, said he was calling on the alliance to provide “effective and uncontrolled” assistance to Ukraine, which would require the country to have any weapons to repel a Russian attack.
As the ground forces of hit-and-run Ukrainian units equipped with Western-supplied weapons slow down or stop, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops are bombing targets from a distance, using tactics they have used to destroy cities in Syria and Chechnya.
A senior U.S. defense official said Wednesday that Russian ground forces were digging 15 to 20 kilometers (9 to 12 miles) outside the capital, Kiev, to create a defensive position because they had made little progress toward the city center.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on condition of anonymity, said forces were no longer trying to advance into the city and that Ukrainian troops had pushed Russian troops further into areas east of Kiev.
Instead, Russian troops appear to be prioritizing fighting in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Donbass, in an effort to cut off Ukrainian troops and prevent them from moving west to protect other cities, the official said. The United States has also observed the activity of Russian ships in the Azov Sea, which appears to be an attempt to send ships landing on the coast, including with supplies, officials said.
A senior Russian official has said that the country’s nuclear arsenal will help prevent the West from intervening in Ukraine.
“The Russian Federation is capable of physically destroying any aggressor or any invading group within minutes at any distance,” Dmitry Rogzin, head of the state space corporation Roscosmos, said in a televised comment. He noted that Moscow’s nuclear arsenal includes strategic nuclear weapons, designed for use on the battlefield, as well as more powerful nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. Supervise Roscosmos missile construction facility.
U.S. officials have long warned that Russia’s military doctrine envisions an “ecclesiastical disclaimer” of using nuclear weapons on the battlefield to force the enemy to retreat in the face of impending defeat. Moscow has denied the allegations.
Roggin is known for his blaster, and he did not specify what actions would be seen by Westerners as interference, but his comments almost certainly reflected the thinking within the Kremlin. Putin has warned the West that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine could lead to a confrontation with Russia. Western nations have said they will not create a no-fly zone to protect Ukraine.
As US President Joe Biden traveled to Europe to meet with key allies over new sanctions against Moscow and more military aid to Ukraine, he warned that there was a “real threat” that Russia could use chemical weapons.
Ahead of the meeting with Biden, EU countries signed another 500 million euros ($ 550 million) in military aid to Ukraine.
Zelensky called on Western nations to remain united in the face of Russia’s efforts to “lobby its interests” with “some partners” and noted in their national speeches that Ukraine did not receive warplanes or modern aircraft. -The defense system has requested it. He says Ukraine also needs anti-tank and anti-ship measures.
“It’s been a month since we’ve had to protect ourselves from attempts to destroy, to remove us from the face of the earth,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine and is determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. He cited evidence of indiscriminate or deliberate attacks on civilians and the destruction of apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, shopping centers and other sites.
Nevertheless, major Russian objectives remain unfulfilled, including Kyiv, where almost endless shelling and gun battles shook the city on Wednesday as the two sides fought for control of multiple suburbs. Mayor Vitaly Klitsko said at least 264 civilians had been killed in the capital since the war began.
Another journalist was killed in the shootings on Wednesday. The independent Russian news outlet The Insider reports that Russian journalist Oksana Baulina was killed in a Kiev neighborhood.
To the south, the besieged port city of Mariupol has seen the most devastating devastation of the war, with weeks of bombings and, now, street fighting. But Ukrainian forces prevented its collapse, thwarting an apparent embarrassment in Moscow to fully secure a land bridge seized from Ukraine in 2014 from Russia to Crimea.
Zelensky says 100,000 civilians remain in the city, up from 430,000 before the war. Attempts to provide much-needed food and other supplies for the stranded have often failed.
Zelensky has accused Russian forces of capturing a humanitarian convoy. Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said the Russians had detained 11 bus drivers and four rescue workers, including their car.
In their last update, a week ago, Mariupol officials said at least 2,300 people had died, but the actual number was probably much higher. An airstrike last week destroyed a theater and an art school where civilians were taking refuge.
In the besieged northern city of Chernihiv, Russian forces bombed and destroyed a bridge used to deliver aid and evacuate civilians, said Vyacheslav Chaus, the regional governor.
Katrina Mitkevich arrives in Poland after fleeing Chernihiv, wiping away tears as she talks about what she saw. The city is without gas, electricity or running water, says Mitkevich, 39, and the entire surrounding area has been devastated.
“I don’t understand why we have such a curse,” he said.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that the military operation was proceeding “strictly” as planned.
NATO officials say an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded. In its latest update, Russia said on March 2 that about 500 soldiers had been killed and about 1,600 wounded.
Ukraine has also claimed to have killed six Russian generals. Russia has admitted to killing only one general.
NATO figures represent the first public estimates of the alliance’s Russian casualties since the start of the war. The U.S. government has denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning Russia’s intelligence have been made more than once.
Anna reports from Lviv, Ukraine. Washington-based Associated Press writer Robert Burns, Lviv’s Uras Karmanou and other AP journalists from around the world contributed to the report.
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