Around 1,300 Ukrainian troops killed and 600 Russian troops surrendered yesterday, says Zelensky

Mr Zelensky urged Western nations to be more involved in negotiations to end the war

Joe Middleton
Saturday 12 March 2022 15:34
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<p>A man walks near a burned car in downtown of Kharkiv, Ukraine</p>

A man walks near a burned car in downtown of Kharkiv, Ukraine

Around 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky said today.

The Ukrainian president, speaking at a news briefing, said that negotiating teams from Kyiv and Moscow had started discussing concrete topics rather than exchanging ultimatums.

He urged Western nations to be more involved in negotiations to end the war, but welcomed efforts by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to mediate between Ukraine and Russia.

Mr Zelensky also revealed that between 500-600 Russian soldiers had surrendered to Ukrainian forces on Friday.

The Ukrainian president said he had spoken to German chancellor Olaf Scholz and French president Emmanuel Macron about pressuring Russia to release the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who Ukraine says was kidnapped on Friday by Russian forces.

More than 2,000 residents of the southern city, which is now under Russian control, protested outside the city administration building to demand the release of the mayor. Russia has not commented on the fate of Mr Fedorov.

Earlier, German chancellor and French president urged Vladimir Putin to declare an immediate ceasefire in a 75-minute phone call on Saturday, Mr Scholz’s spokesperson said.

The Kremlin said the Russian president had briefed them about the state of play in negotiations and responded to their concerns about the humanitarian situation.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s war in Ukraine

A readout of the call with Mr Macron and Mr Scholz by the Kremlin did not mention a ceasefire and accused Ukraine of using civilians as human shields.

The political talks come as heavy fighting continued near Kyiv today and Ukrainian officials said heavy shelling was endangering attempted evacuations of civilians from encircled towns and cities.

Ukrainian officials had planned to use humanitarian corridors from Mariupol as well as towns and villages in the regions of Kyiv, Sumy and some other areas on Saturday.

The governor of the Kyiv region Oleksiy Kuleba said fighting and threats of Russian air attacks were continuing on Saturday morning but later said some evacuations were proceeding. “We will try to get people out every day, as long as it’s possible to observe a ceasefire,” he said.

In the southern port city of Mariupol, which has undergone heavy Russian bombing and a 12-day blockage, at least 1,582 civilians are dead, the city council said on Friday.

“There are reports of looting and violent confrontations among civilians over what little basic supplies remain in the city,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

“Medicines for life-threatening illnesses are quickly running out, hospitals are only partially functioning, and the food and water are in short supply.”

Russian forces also reportedly shelled a mosque sheltering more than 80 people, including children, in the city on Saturday.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

Additional reporting by agencies

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