Thursday, October 6, 2022

Putin Has Seen Up To 28,000 Russian Troops Killed, Wounded Or Captured In Ukraine – A Fifth Of Its Armed Force – US Says

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Russia has lost up to 28,000 soldiers killed and wounded during three weeks of fighting in Ukraine, the US believes, as Vladimir Putin’s invasion stalls ‘on all fronts’ but shelling of cities including Kyiv continues.

The Pentagon estimates at least 7,000 Russian troops have now died in the fighting while another 14,000 to 21,000 have been wounded – accounting for nearly a fifth of the estimated 150,000 men that Putin amassed on the border before giving the order to attack 21 days ago.

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The staggering toll is roughly double NATO losses in Afghanistan over two decades of fighting, and roughly equal to US casualties in the 36-day battle of Iwo Jima – one of the bloodiest clashes in the Pacific during the Second World War.
Losses are now so severe, US intelligence believes some Russian units cannot keep fighting.
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That tallies with assessments by British intelligence, which said today that Russia’s invasion has stalled ‘on all fronts’ with ‘minimal progress on land, sea or air’ in the last 24 hours while continuing to ‘suffer heavy losses’.

But the bombardment of Ukrainian cities continues never-the-less, with Kyiv struck by missiles in the early hours – one of which was shot down, though wreckage still struck a 16-storey apartment block, killing one person and sparking fires which injured dozens of others.

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Mariupol, the heavily besieged city in the south of Ukraine, also continued to come under heavy fire as city officials estimated that at least 2,400 people have now been killed there – though mayoral adviser Petro Andriushchenko said the true toll could be as high as 20,000 once cut-off areas have been searched for victims.

Andriushchenko spoke even before a theatre in the city housing up to 1,200 civilians was struck and destroyed by Russian forces Wednesday evening – despite having signs that said ‘kids’ in Russian positioned outside it. President Volodymyr Zelensky called the attack ‘heartbreaking’ while Joe Biden branded Putin a ‘war criminal.’

Casualties from the attack are unclear. City officials said Thursday morning that evacuations are now underway, and that a bomb shelter at the theatre survived the strike. It is unclear how many people were inside at the time.

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Despite the mounting death toll, peace talks between the two sides are continuing with concrete proposals for a ceasefire being discussed. Russian negotiators yesterday briefed journalists on their 15-point plan for peace, which would see Ukraine declare neutrality and place limits on its armed forces in return for Russian withdrawal.

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Ukraine’s chief negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak would not be drawn on the plan, saying only that the two sides had discussed it and it did not take Kyiv’s negotiating position into account. The proposal makes no mention of Crimea and Donbass – Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia and its proxies before the invasion – with President Zelensky later reiterating that his country’s territorial integrity is not up for negotiation.

Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said late Wednesday that he believes Russia is only ‘pretending to negotiate’ with Ukraine amid fears that any ceasefire will be used by Putin to rearm and resupply his forces before attacking again. The US says he has already reached out to China for military supplies, while the UK believes he is drawing soldiers from Russia’s far east and Pacific as reinforcements.

The latest assaults on civilians across Ukraine came as President Volodymyr Zelensky made a searing appeal for help to the US, which responded by pledging $1 billion in new weapons to fight Russia’s invading army.

Officials across Ukraine are struggling to count the civilian dead – with authorities saying 103 children have been killed since the invasion began – who have been targeted in homes, hospitals, ambulances and food queues.

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In the port city of Mariupol – where more than 2,000 people have died so far – a Russian bomb hit the Drama Theatre, which city council officials said had been housing over 1,000 people.

‘The only word to describe what has happened today is genocide, genocide of our nation, our Ukrainian people,’ the city’s mayor Vadim Boychenko said in a video message on Telegram.

‘We have difficulty understanding all of this, we refuse to believe, we want to close our eyes and forget the nightmare that happened today,’ he said.

Satellite images of the theatre on March 14 shared by private satellite company Maxar showed the words ‘children’ clearly etched out in the ground in Russian on either side of the building.

Officials posted a photo of the building, whose middle part was completely destroyed, with thick white smoke rising from the rubble after they said a bomb was dropped from an airplane.

‘It is impossible to find words to describe the level of cynicism and cruelty, with which Russian invaders are destroying peaceful residents of a Ukrainian city by the sea,’ an official statement read.

Photo Credit: Getty

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