Kyiv says 800 Russian soldiers were killed in one day and demands tanks
The Ukrainian military claimed Thursday that 800 Russian soldiers have been killed in the past day, most of them in combat in the eastern Donetsk region.
As part of the regular morning round of fighting, the Ukrainian military said that the Russian forces are concentrating on an offensive in the Bakhmut sector and that their attacks in the Avdiivka and Kubyansk sectors have been unsuccessful.
It added that more than 800 Russian soldiers, aircraft, helicopters and three tanks were destroyed during the past day.
It also reported an unspecified number of civilian casualties as a result of Russian air, missile and missile attacks on the Ukrainian-held city of Bakhmut and two other cities in the Donetsk region – Kostyantynivka and Korakhov.
Russia denies targeting civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine. Reuters could not independently verify accounts of the battlefield.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian and Russian forces clashed in the eastern regions on Thursday as Kyiv tried to push back the occupying forces.
President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the West to supply his army with heavy tanks to boost their firepower.
The Ukrainian military said that the Russians were concentrating on an offensive in the Bakhmut sector of the Donetsk region, but that their offensives in the Avdiivka and Kobyansk sectors were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, the governor of the neighboring Luhansk region said Ukrainian forces were regaining control of areas there “step by step” but warned that it was “not happening quickly”.
Luhansk and Donetsk make up the Donbass region, Ukraine’s industrial heartland, parts of which were seized by Russian-backed proxies in 2014.
Russia declared the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions as part of its territory in September after referendums that were condemned by Ukraine and Western countries. Russia does not fully control any of the four regions.
Bakhmut, now largely in ruins after months of bombardment by Russian artillery, is important because the Russian leadership wants to succeed in holding out for the Russian public after a series of setbacks in the war.
It is located on a strategic supply line between Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Taking control of the city, which had a pre-war population of 70,000-80,000 that has shrunk to close to 10,000, could give Russia a springboard to advance on two larger cities – Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.
Meanwhile, a senior US administration official predicted the long way forward in the war that has now raged for nearly 11 months.
“The fighting is still raging (in Donetsk),” the official said in Washington on Wednesday. “What we’re seeing in Bakhmut we should expect to see elsewhere along the front, which is continued fighting in the coming months.” .
In his video address on Wednesday evening, Zelensky urged Western allies to provide his army with tanks and heavy weapons to fight Russian forces.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that his government will send AMX-10 RC light combat vehicles to help with the war effort.
Zelensky thanked Macron but said, “There is no logical reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with Western tanks.”
The Ukrainian leader also said that his forces outside Bakhmut are inflicting many losses on their opponents and that Russia is amassing its forces in the region.
As the war dragged on, the Kyiv government repeatedly requested heavier fighting vehicles such as the Abrams and German-made Leopard tanks from its Western allies.
US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the United States is considering sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine. The Bradley has a powerful gun and has been a staple of the US Army’s carrying troops since the mid-1980’s.
However, Biden’s decision will not amount to sending the Abrams tanks that Ukraine has sought.
The United States is preparing another arms package, which could be announced in the coming days in addition to about $21.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine so far.
The United States has increased the capacity of the weapons it has sent, including shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as well as Javelin anti-tank missiles, the HIMARS missile system and NASAMS surface-to-air missiles.
During a visit by Zelensky to Washington last month, the United States pledged to send the Patriot missile system to fend off Russian missile and drone attacks.
Russia launched its invasion on February 24, citing threats to its security and the need to protect Russian speakers. Ukraine and its allies accuse Russia of waging an unprovoked war for territorial control.