Russian MoD Dismisses Zelensky's Estimate of 2,500-3,000 Ukrainian Casualties as Lie
17:28 GMT 16.04.2022 (Updated: 19:22 GMT 16.04.2022)
© Sputnik / Алексей Майшев / Go to the mediabankUkrainian PoWs being led through the memorial 'Nothing is Forgotten, Nothing is Forgiven!' in Lugansk People's Republic in a day of remembrance to the victims of Ukrainian aggression. April 14, 2022.
© Sputnik / Алексей Майшев/
On Friday, the Ukrainian president told CNN that about 2,500-3,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed since the start of the Russian-led military operation in Ukraine in February. Kiev stopped reporting on its losses in late March, classifying the information as "classified military information."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's estimate that Ukraine's military losses amount to 2,500-3,000 troops are a "lie," Russian Ministry of Defence spokesman Igor Konashenkov has said.
"The Russian Ministry of Defence has reliable figures on the true losses suffered by the Ukrainian Army, the National Guard and foreign mercenaries, which Zelensky is afraid to provide to the people of Ukraine. Today, its irretrievable losses amount to 23,367 people," Konashenkov said in a briefing Saturday.
In Mariupol alone, Ukrainian losses topped over 4,000 troops killed, he said. "Therefore, Zelensky's recent statements to Western media that Ukraine's military losses during the operation amounted to 2,500-3,000 troops total is a plain that's lie all-too-familiar for him," the officer said.
"In total, since the start of the special military operation, 134 Ukrainian aircraft, 460 drones, 246 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2,269 tanks and other armoured vehicles, 252 multiple launch rocket systems, 987 pieces of field artillery and mortars, as well as 2,158 special military vehicles have been destroyed," the spokesman added.
Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military shot down a Ukrainian transport aircraft carrying a large batch of Western weapons near Odessa, and struck 15 enemy targets, including concentrated military equipment and strongholds, in precision missile strikes, Konashenkov said.
Commenting on the situation in Mariupol, the officer said that the entire city has been cleared of Ukrainian troops, neo-Nazi Azov fighters and foreign mercenaries, whose active numbers amount to about 2,500 fighters total, and that these forces have been completely trapped on the territory of the Azovstal metal and steelworks. "Their only chance to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender," he stressed.
Konashenkov recalled that at the time of its encirclement on 11 March, Mariupol contained about 8,100 Ukrainian troops, nationalist fighters and foreign mercs. 1,464 have voluntarily surrendered to Russian and Donbass forces since then, and continue to do so.
On Friday, Donbass People's Republic representative Yan Gagin said that the operation to clear Azovstal would be difficult, since the massive Soviet-era plant is a city-sized giant, containing its own communications, roads and a labyrinth of subterranean catacombs.
"The facility itself was build during Soviet days, taking into account the possibility of bombings, blockades. Some structures were even designed to withstand a nuclear strike," Gagin said. Taking account of the large numbers of defenders and the fact that they are armed to the teeth, the official said the operation to liberate the plant will be slow and methodical to avoid losses by DPR forces.
In Friday's interview with CNN, Zelensky urged "all of the countries of the world" to prepare for the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons against Ukraine because "for them [the Russians] the life of people [means] nothing." He also reiterated Ukrainian military claims about Russian casualties amounting to 19,000-20,000 troops. In late March, the Russian MoD reported casualties of 1,351 troops killed, with 3,825 suffering injuries.