Nearly 500 Russian soldiers have been killed since the start of the war in Ukraine, Moscow’s defence chiefs say – a significantly lower death toll than that reported by the government in Kyiv.
Some 498 have died and another 1,597 have been wounded in the past seven days, the Russian defence ministry claimed in its first report of military casualties since the country invaded its eastern European neighbour last week.
But a military adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said some 6,000 Russian servicemen had been killed and hundreds had been taken prisoner, including senior officers.
Russia’s Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov also claimed more than 2,870 Ukrainian troops had been killed and about 3,700 wounded, while 572 others had been captured.
He rejected reports about “incalculable losses” of the Russians as “disinformation”, insisting neither conscripts nor cadets had been involved in Ukraine, dismissing reports they had.
Kyiv officials have not yet commented on the figures, and they could not be immediately verified. But last week the country’s defence minister warned as many Russian soldiers would die in Ukraine as during the two Chechen wars - a number estimated at up to 160,000.
Ukraine’s state emergency service says more than 2,000 civilians have been killed since the invasion began.
The country is putting up massive resistance to the deadly bombardment and relentless shelling imposed on it by Russia, one of the world’s largest military forces.
Heavy gun battles have raged in Kharkiv, the second-largest Russian target after the capital Kyiv, and the Russian military has fired cruise missiles in its efforts to destroy its opponents.
Russia’s assault on Kharkiv included a strike on the regional police and intelligence headquarters, and a university building, according to government officials. Explosions also happened in a central square near other government buildings, including the city council’s.
Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, said an advance of Russian troops on Kharkiv was stopped, so Russia shelled the northeastern city with rockets and air strikes in response.
“Kharkiv today is the Stalingrad of the 21st century,” said Mr Arestovich, who added that several Russian planes were shot down over the city.
Oleg Sinehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said 21 people had been killed and at least 112 had been wounded over the previous 24 hours.
A 40-mile convoy of Russian tanks and other vehicles is on a road to Kyiv, a city of nearly 3 million people. The West fears it is part of an effort by Vladimir Putin to topple the government and install a Kremlin-friendly regime.
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