Ukrainian troops killed more than 1,000 Russian soldiers in what could be the deadliest day of fighting since the invasion of the country more than a year ago, Kyiv’s military said Sunday.
In a video shared by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun claimed that Ukrainian forces killed 1,090 Russian troops on Saturday.
Shtupun also commended the elimination of eight Russian tanks, seven armored fighting vehicles, and four artillery systems in the fighting.
The latest fatality report tops Kyiv’s previous record for 1,030 Russian soldiers killed overnight on Feb. 7, just weeks before the war’s first anniversary on Feb. 24.
Ukrainian military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi also said Sunday that an additional 239 Russian soldiers were killed on the frontline near Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, the Kyiv Independent reported.
On Friday, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar confirmed that the ongoing battle of Bakhmut was “aggravated” as Russia maintained its offensive even in the face of losses.
“Our soldiers are doing everything possible to prevent the enemy from realizing their plans,” Maliar wrote on Telegram.
Russia’s offensive on Bakhmut, which is essential to the Ukrainian supply chain, and surrounding settlements has been ongoing since mid-January. Moscow first captured the city in May 2022.
Maxar Technologies’ satellite images shared earlier this week show the once-thriving city reduced to rubble and clouded by ash.
As of this weekend, Ukraine’s forces were reportedly holed up in buildings on the west side of the Bakhmutka River. The 2,600-foot area of open space between the Ukrainian and Russian soldiers has been dubbed a “killing zone” as the battle rages on.
Despite earlier reports that Russia’s Wagner forces made gains in the area, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW)’s Sunday report concluded that the troops did not advance on Saturday.
News of Russia’s heavy weekend losses came shortly after President Volodymyr Zelensky’s aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper about Ukraine’s strategy in the war-torn region.
“[Russia] has converged on Bakhmut with a large part of its trained military personnel, the remnants of its professional army, as well as the private companies,” Podolyak explained.
“We, therefore, have two objectives: to reduce their capable personnel as much as possible, and to fix them in a few key wearisome battles, to disrupt their offensive and concentrate our resources elsewhere, for the spring counter-offensive.”
Another aide was more explicit, telling the BBC that the Bakhmut front was “a unique opportunity to kill a lot of Russians.”
One US official, who spoke anonymously, estimated that as many as 30,000 have been killed in the assault since the start of the war. Ukrainian officials also claimed on Tuesday that 4,000 residents have been killed in the city.