on Monday 26 February, 2024

Zelenskyy says 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed since Russia invaded

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (Reuters)
by : Agencies

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since Russia’s full-scale invasion two years ago, giving the first official figure for more than a year.

Zelenskyy told a news conference in Kyiv that he could not disclose the number of wounded because it would help Russian military planning.

“31,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed in this war. Not 300,000, not 150,000 ... (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is lying there ... But nevertheless, this is a big loss for us.”

Ukraine has not put a number to its military losses since the end of 2022, when presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the invasion on Feb. 24.

Russia does not disclose military losses, which it regards as secret.

Western support

Zelenskyy also said his country’s victory “depends” on Western support and that he was “sure” the United States would approve a critical package of military aid.

“Whether Ukraine will lose, whether it will be very difficult for us and whether there will be a large number of casualties depends on you, on our partners, on the Western world,” Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian leader’s comments come at a time when Ukraine has been weakened by a shortage of ammunition and the blocking of US aid in Congress.

“There is hope for Congress, and I am sure that it is going to be positive, otherwise I do not understand the world we will start to live in,” Zelenskyy said.

The aid has been blocked amid resistance from Republicans.

Asked if he would talk to Putin, Zelenskyy said: “Can you talk to a deaf person? Can you talk to a man who kills his opponents?”

Putin’s main opponent Alexei Navalny died in an Arctic prison this month.

“He sees himself (in power) by 2030, we would like to finish with him sooner,” Zelenskyy added, mocking an upcoming presidential election in Russia that is likely to extend Putin’s long rule until 2030.


Zelenskyy also suggested that plans for Kyiv’s long-awaited counteroffensive last year had been leaked to Russia ahead of time.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive in 2023, powered by billions of dollars in Western arms, largely fell flat, failing to break through multiple lines of Russian defenses and fortifications.

“Our counteroffensive action plans were on the Kremlin’s table before the counteroffensive actions began,” Zelenskyy said.

His office subsequently confirmed to AFP that Zelenskyy was referring to Moscow obtaining sensitive military planning information.

Zelenskyy did not provide any other details on the leak.

He went on to say that Kyiv was preparing “several” versions of its battlefield strategy for 2024 to help avoid a repeat.

Asked whether Ukraine had plans for another attempt at a counteroffensive this year, he said: “We have a plan, a clear plan. Several plans will be prepared because of information leaks.”

Russian forces are now back on the advance across eastern Ukraine, having captured the symbolic frontline town of Avdiivka and seeking to press their advantage in ammunition and manpower.