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‘9,000 heroes killed,’ top Ukrainian commander confirms in rare update

Russian losses estimated at 20,000; US approved new Ukraine military aid package Friday worth $800 million

A woman hugs relatives as she arrives in a bus with people who fled from Mariupol and Tokmak Berdyansk to a reception center for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on May 3, 2022.  (AP/Francisco Seco)
A woman hugs relatives as she arrives in a bus with people who fled from Mariupol and Tokmak Berdyansk to a reception center for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on May 3, 2022. (AP/Francisco Seco)

Nearly 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia’s invasion began, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief said on Monday, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

Valeriy Zaluzhny told a forum that Ukraine’s children needed particular attention “because their fathers have gone to the front and are maybe among the nearly 9,000 heroes who have been killed.”

Ukrainian officials have only very rarely given any detail on military losses in nearly six months of war.

The last estimate dates back to April when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that up to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 10,000 injured.

As for Russian losses, US military estimates suggest over 20,000 soldiers have been killed since the outbreak of hostilities in March 2022, according to a New York Times report.

Speaking to reporters in early August, Colin Kahl, the US under secretary of defense for policy, said, “I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months,” referring to Russian soldiers either killed or injured in the conflict.

Russian rockets launch against Ukraine from Russia’s Belgorod region are seen at dawn in Kharkiv, Ukraine, early Saturday, August 20, 2022. (AP/Vadim Belikov)

Kahl continued, “[The Russians] have made some incremental gains in the east, although not very much in the last couple of weeks, but that has come at extraordinary cost to the Russian military because of how well the Ukrainian military has performed and all the assistance the Ukrainian military has gotten.”

On Friday the US approved a renewed aid package for the embattled Ukraine, consisting of $775 million in defensive weaponry.

The package includes drones, armored vehicles and artillery, and may indicate an expected spike in the intensity of fighting, particularly in the south of the country as Ukraine seeks to retake the city of Kherson.

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