“Around 1,300” Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbor, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday as forces from Moscow closed in on the capital Kiev.
Zelenskiy made the revelation at a press conference, the first time Kiev had made such a tally since the start of the fighting. On March 2, Russia said it had lost nearly 500 troops, but has not updated the figure since.
The Ukrainian president claimed that Russia had lost “about 12,000 men”.
It’s “a ratio of one to ten, but that doesn’t make me happy,” he said.
The Russian army committed around 150,000 troops to the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian forces increased pressure on Kyiv on Saturday, striking civilian areas in other Ukrainian cities, amid renewed efforts to deliver aid to the devastated port city of Mariupol.
Russian strikes destroyed the airport in the city of Vasylkiv on Saturday morning, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Kiev, while an oil depot was also hit and caught fire, the mayor said.
The capital’s northwestern suburbs, including Irpin and Bucha, have already suffered days of heavy shelling as Russian armored vehicles advance on the northeastern edge.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called it a “besieged city” on Friday, while Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Saturday that Kiev was strengthening defenses and stockpiling food and medicine.
The southern port city of Mariupol is facing what Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called “the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet”, with more than 1,500 civilians dead in 12 days .