- More than 900 civilian bodies have been discovered in Kyiv region, police say.
- Russia promises to ramp up ‘scale of missile attacks’ on Ukraine capital.
- 7 killed in shelling that hit Kharkiv residential neighbourhood, governor says.
- Residents trapped in Mariupol being ‘starved to death,’ UN warns.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday told CNN that between 2,500 and 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died in the war with Russia and another 10,000 have been injured.
Separately, in a late-night video address, Zelensky said the military situation in the south and east of the country was “still very difficult,” while praising the work of his armed forces.
“The successes of our military on the battlefield are really significant, historically significant. But they are still not enough to clean our land of the occupiers. We will beat them some more,” he said, calling again for allies to send heavier weapons and for an international embargo on Russian oil.
In his address, Zelensky said Ukraine’s allies have the power to make the war much shorter by sending the weapons his government needs. “I always tell all our partners … that the amount of support for Ukraine directly affects the restoration of peace. It literally defines how many more Ukrainians the occupiers will manage to kill,” he said.
Moscow has said its main war aim is to capture the Donbas, an eastern region already partly held by Russian-backed separatists, after its invasion force was driven from the outskirts of Kyiv this month.
Russia initially described its aims in Ukraine as disarming its neighbour and defeating nationalists there. Kyiv and its Western allies say those are bogus justifications for an unprovoked war of aggression that has driven a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes and led to the deaths of thousands.
Hundreds of civilians found dead near Kyiv
More than 900 civilian bodies have been discovered in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following the withdrawal of Russian forces — most of them fatally shot, police said Friday, an indication people were “simply executed.”
Andriy Nebytov, head of Kyiv’s regional police force, said the bodies were abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials. He cited police data indicating that 95 per cent died from gunshot wounds.
More bodies are being found every day, under rubble and in mass graves, he said.
“The most victims were found in Bucha, where there are more than 350 corpses,” he said.
According to Nebytov, utilities workers in Bucha gathered and buried bodies in the Kyiv suburb while it remained under Russian control. Russian troops, he added, were “tracking down” people who expressed strong pro-Ukrainian views.
Russia’s Defence Ministry on Friday promised to ramp up “the scale of missile attacks” on Kyiv in response to Ukraine’s “diversions on the Russian territory.”
The statement comes a day after Russian authorities accused Ukrainian forces of launching airstrikes on residential buildings in one of the country’s regions on the border with Ukraine, in which seven people sustained injuries.
According to Russian officials, some 100 residential buildings were damaged in Thursday’s attack on the Klimovo village in the Bryansk region of Russia.
The Defence Ministry said the Russian forces in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region shot down a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter that was allegedly involved in the attack.
Authorities in another border region, Belgorod, also reported Ukrainian shelling on Thursday.
Shelling in Kharkiv
The governor of the Kharkiv region said seven people, including a seven-month-old baby, were killed in shelling of a residential neighborhood in the city.
Oleh Sinehubov said Friday in a Telegram post that 34 other people were wounded.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has been heavily hit by shelling and rocket attacks during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The city’s position about 40 kilometres south of Russia and 160 kilometres north of the separatist eastern regions of Ukraine gives it significant strategic importance.
Meanwhile, seven people died and 27 were injured after Russian forces opened fire on buses carrying civilians in the Ukrainian village of Borovaya, near Kharkiv, a spokesperson for the regional prosecutor’s office told Ukraine’s Suspilne news website Friday.
Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are working to establish the circumstances of the attack, Dmytro Chubenko said. He added that investigators are also establishing the routes and destination of the vehicles transporting civilians across the Russian-controlled territory around Borovaya.
Chubenko said that Ukrainian authorities had opened criminal proceedings in connection with a suspected “violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder.” The claims could not be independently verified.
Mariupol residents being ‘starved to death’
The head of the UN World Food Program (WFP) said people are being “starved to death” in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol and he predicted the country’s humanitarian crisis is likely to worsen as Russia intensifies its assault in the coming weeks.
WFP executive director David Beasley also warned in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press in Kyiv that Russia’s invasion of grain-exporting Ukraine risks destabilizing nations far from its shores and could trigger waves of migrants seeking better lives elsewhere.
The war that began Feb. 24 was “devastating the people in Ukraine,” Beasley said, lamenting the lack of access faced by the WFP and other aid organizations in trying to reach those in need amid the conflict.
The fluid nature of the conflict, which has seen fighting shift away from areas around the capital and toward eastern Ukraine, has made it especially difficult to reach hungry Ukrainians.
The WFP is trying to put food supplies now in areas that could be caught up in the fighting, but Beasley acknowledged that there are “a lot of complexities” as the situation rapidly evolves.
On Friday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said its forces had taken full control of the Illich Steel Plant in the besieged city, which has been encircled by Russian troops for weeks. Mariupol has seen some of the heaviest fighting of the war — at a horrific cost to civilians.
Dwindling numbers of Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol are holding out against a siege that has trapped well over 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heating.
Mariupol’s mayor said this week that more than 10,000 civilians had died and that the death toll could surpass 20,000.
Mariupol’s capture is critical for Russia because it would allow its forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland and the target of the looming offensive.