Officials say more than 10,000 Ukrainians have been killed in the war as Russia rejects terms to talk

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia said Friday that the West demands that it withdraw completely from Ukraine as part of any future talks to end the war, effectively ruling out such negotiations, as the Russian strikes were continuing and a Ukrainian official was fixing his country’s combat losses. up to 13,000 soldiers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains open to talks, but that the Western demand that Moscow first withdraw its troops from Ukraine is unacceptable.

READ MORE: European security meeting opens with condemnation of Russia’s war and Lavrov’s ban

Peskov’s comments came as Putin spoke on the phone Friday morning with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Scholz’s office said he made it clear to Putin “there must be a diplomatic solution as soon as possible, which includes a withdrawal of Russian troops.”

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden also indicated that he would be ready to speak with Putin if he demonstrated that he was serious about ending the invasion and withdrawing from Ukraine.

A statement released by the Kremlin after the phone call with Scholz said Putin again blamed the West for encouraging Ukraine to prolong the war by supplying it with weapons.

Putin also said recent crippling Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure were “forced and unavoidable” after Ukraine allegedly bombed a key bridge to the Crimean peninsula – which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 – and energy facilities.

Russian forces have been bombing critical infrastructure in Ukraine since October, leaving millions without power in a cold winter. Scholz’s office said that during the telephone conversation with Putin he “condemned in particular Russian air attacks against civilian infrastructure” in Ukraine and said Germany was determined to continue to help Ukraine recover. defend.

Russian forces continued rocket attacks on infrastructure and airstrikes on Ukrainian troop positions along the line of contact, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Friday, adding that Moscow’s military push has is concentrated in a dozen towns, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka, key Russian targets in the beleaguered east.

A senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, citing military leaders, said that since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 10,000 to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action. It was a rare comment on Ukrainian military casualties and well below estimates by Western leaders.

“We have official figures from the general staff, we have official figures from the high command, and they amount to between 10,000 and 12,500-13,000 killed,” adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told the channel on Thursday evening. 24 TVs. He also said civilian casualties were “significant”.

The Ukrainian military did not confirm these figures and this was a rare case of a Ukrainian official providing such a tally. The latest dates back to late August, when the head of the armed forces said nearly 9,000 servicemen had been killed. In June, Podolyak said up to 200 soldiers were dying every day in some of the war’s most intense fighting and bloodshed.

On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Union’s Executive Commission, said 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, before her office corrected her comments – calling them inaccurate and saying the figure referred both the dead and the injured.

Zelenskyy’s office reported on Friday that at least three civilians had been killed and 16 injured in Ukraine in the past 24 hours. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy director of the office, said on Telegram that Russian forces attacked nine southeastern regions with heavy artillery, rockets and aircraft.

Ukrainians have braced for freezing winter temperatures as the Russian countryside recently hit infrastructure including power plants and electrical transformers, leaving many without heat, water and electricity.

Ukraine has been facing an avalanche of Russian artillery fire and drone attacks since early October. Shelling has been particularly heavy in Kherson since Russian forces withdrew and the Ukrainian army retook the city from the south nearly three weeks ago.

The Kherson regional governor said three people were killed and seven injured in shelling on Thursday. The Russians struck residential areas of the city, part of which was left without power following Russian strikes on Thursday.

In the eastern region of Donetsk, Ukrainian Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russian shelling has intensified significantly. The Russian army seeks to encircle the key town of Bakhmut by capturing several surrounding villages and cutting off an important road.

Russian strikes targeting towns across the Dnieper River from Russia’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have also been reported. And in northeastern Kharkiv province, officials said Russian shelling injured two women.


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