According to estimates by US intelligence services, more than 20,000 soldiers have been killed on the Russian side in fighting for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut since December.
About half of them are Wagner mercenaries, National Security Council communications director John Kirby said in Washington yesterday. According to unconfirmed information from Kiev, Russia has even suffered total losses of 200,000 men in Ukraine since the beginning of the war in February of the previous year, as stated in yesterday's daily updated situation report. Nevertheless, the Russian military is continuing its attacks - and the Ukrainian troops are preparing their offensive to recapture the occupied territories.
Washington: Wagner mercenaries with heavy casualties
Most of the Wagner mercenaries who died in Bachmut were Russian convicts who had been sent to war without adequate combat or combat training, Kirby said. The total number of soldiers killed and injured on the Russian side since December as a result of the fighting for the city, which has now been largely destroyed, is estimated by the secret services at more than 100,000. Kirby did not provide information on the number of victims of the Ukrainian armed forces.
US Chief of Staff Mark Milley reported in November that more than 100,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded in the first eight months of the war. The same probably applies to the Ukrainian side, he said in New York at the time. These numbers cannot be independently verified.
After its invasion more than 14 months ago, Russia controls almost a fifth of Ukraine's territory, including the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014. Bachmut has been under attack from the Russian army and the Wagner troops for months. According to their own statements, the attackers now control around 85 percent of the city area.
Artillery duels and rocket attacks on May Day
Several people were killed in Russian rocket attacks and artillery duels yesterday in Ukraine. According to the General Staff in Kiev, the Russian armed forces used cruise missiles and fighter jets. Several civilians were killed or injured in attacks in the east of the country and in central Ukraine. In addition, numerous buildings were damaged or destroyed.
In the Zaporizhia region of central Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian troops engaged in intense artillery duels throughout the day. At least two civilians were killed and 14 others injured in Russian-occupied Mikhailovka, the Russian state agency TASS reported, citing local authorities. The information provided by the warring parties could not initially be checked independently.
New explosions over the occupied Black Sea peninsula of Crimea caused unrest among the local population yesterday. According to Russian media, a Ukrainian drone was shot down by anti-aircraft defenses in the west of the peninsula. At the weekend, a fuel depot in the port city of Sevastopol caught fire as a result of a drone attack.
Zelenskyj: Air defense must become more effective
After the latest Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian cities, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced more effective anti-aircraft defenses. "We are working with our partners as actively as possible to make the protection of our airspace even more reliable," Zelenskyj said yesterday in his video speech every evening. "Last night alone, from midnight to seven in the morning, we managed to shoot down 15 Russian missiles," Zelensky said, "but unfortunately not all of them."
The reason for his statements were Russian attacks with cruise missiles and rockets on Monday night and during the course of the day. Several projectiles fell in Pavlohrad in central Ukraine, injuring at least 34 people. Numerous buildings were destroyed or at least damaged. Selenskyj announced retaliation for the attacks. "The Russian occupiers will receive our reply to every such attack," he said.
Kiev's defense minister: Preparations for the offensive in the final phase
According to Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov, Ukraine's preparations for the expected spring offensive to recapture Russian-occupied territories are "in the final phase". "I believe in her," he said yesterday on state television. "A lot has been done for their success."
"I believe that as of today we can turn onto the home straight and say: Yes, everything is ready," emphasized Resnikov. "And then, based on the decision and understanding the situation on the battlefield, the General Staff, the Commander-in-Chief and his team will decide how, where and when," the minister said. Like Ukraine's international partners, he is convinced of the success of the offensive. After all, Kiev's partners understand that success "is in the security interests of their countries and their people."
After the reconquest of the occupied territories by his troops, Reznikov counts on a condemnation of the political and military leadership of Russia. "There must be a verdict from an international tribunal for the Kremlin's military criminals and this mafia gang," he demanded. Russia's President Vladimir Putin "and those around him have to sit down". A conviction would send a clear signal to all successors and descendants in Russia: "Don't think about revenge."
That brings the day
On the proposal of President Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian parliament wants to extend the state of war and the duration of compulsory military service today. Both expire on May 20th.