Nearly 22,000 civilians have been killed or injured in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s military aggression more than a year ago, according to a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
The office confirmed the death of 8,231 civilians, but they believe that their number could be much higher, as it is difficult to get timely information on the number of possible victims in areas where violent clashes are taking place, according to a report published on the office’s website. According to the data of the office, which monitors the number of civilian casualties since the start of the war on February 24 last year, 13,734 civilians were wounded until March 12 this year.
Most civilian casualties were recorded in areas controlled by the Ukrainian government, namely 6,372 dead and 11,247 wounded. In regions under Russian control, 1,859 civilians were killed and 2,487 were wounded. According to the office’s estimates, more than 3,900 civilians were killed and 2,900 wounded in March of last year alone, and since then the number of civilian casualties has been decreasing.
Artillery shells, rockets and aerial bombs claimed the vast majority of casualties, followed by anti-personnel mines and remnants of explosive devices.
In the battle for Bahmut, heavy losses for both sides
Fierce fighting continues in heavily deserted Bahmut, with both sides reporting an ever-increasing number of casualties from the opposing army.
The commander of the Ukrainian ground forces said that the situation in the city, which is divided by the Bahmutka River, is very challenging, while adding that his forces are successfully resisting the efforts of Russian forces to occupy it. “All attempts by the enemy to occupy the city are suppressed by artillery, tanks and other weapons,” he announced via Telegram Alexander the Syrian. Ukrainian forces control the west of Bahmut, while Wagner Group fighters have taken control of most of the eastern part. The area is separated by the river Bahmutka, the British Ministry of Defense wrote in a report on the events at the weekend.
Leader of Wagner’s troops Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Sunday that the situation was “difficult, very difficult”. “The closer we are to the center of the city, the more difficult the fighting is. The Ukrainians are throwing endless reserves. But we are advancing and will continue to advance,” he said, adding that the Russian army was helping his members with ammunition. “We got 15 trucks yesterday, 12 today. And I think we’ll keep getting more,” he said, adding that there was no conflict between his fighters and Russian troops.
In recent weeks, Prigozhin complained that the Russian army was deliberately not giving ammunition to his fighters, which the Ministry of Defense denied.
High casualties on both sides
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said in an evening address on Sunday that Ukrainian troops had killed more than 1,100 Russian soldiers in the past few days. “In less than a week, we killed more than 1,100 soldiers in Bahmut alone, which is an irreparable loss for the Russian side.” He added that another 1,500 Russian soldiers were injured to such an extent that they could not fight. The Russian side previously announced that more than 220 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the area of the Donetsk Basin in the last 24 hours. Neither side gave details of their casualties.
Prigozhin announced that his group would start a new recruitment of fighters after the capture of Bahmut. The group has 42 training centers.
Analysts predict that the Ukrainian army will start a spring counter-offensive in April or in May, when the weather will improve, and by then they will strengthen their military, mainly counting on leopard and abrambs tanks. “Everyone is waiting. The 1st Tank Brigade too. We recently sent personnel for training on the use of Leopards,” said a Ukrainian tank brigadier Leonid Khoda.
Over the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, the Russian air defense launched four missiles today, the local governor announced Vyacheslav Gladkov. According to him, one person was injured. The Ukrainian city of Donetsk, which is under Russian control, was the target of four shellings on Sunday, which Russian officials blamed on Ukraine.
Meanwhile, he is Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba He called on Germany to speed up arms deliveries and start training Ukrainian pilots to use Western fighter jets. He said he does not expect the Western allies to give Ukraine the fighter jets it has asked for, but added that the pilots should already be trained when they decide to supply the fighter jets.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is reportedly planning a visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin next week, Reuters reports. Officially, Beijing and Moscow have not yet confirmed the visit.
Moscow agreed to extend the grain agreement
Russia has agreed to extend the agreement on the export of grain across the Black Sea, which it concluded with Ukraine with the mediation of the UN and Turkey last July, but only for 60 days, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin announced, adding that further extension depending on compliance with the part of the agreement on the export of Russian grain and fertilizers.
“The Russian side (…) is not opposed to the re-extension of the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ after the second deadline expired on March 18, but only for 60 days,” Veršinin announced in a statement after talks with UN representatives in Geneva.
The agreement, which enables the export of grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea, was concluded by the warring parties last July with the mediation of the United Nations and Turkey. This enabled the export of more than 20 million tons of grain from Ukraine after exports were halted by the Russian invasion, helping to lower food prices on world markets.
The agreement, the validity of which will expire on March 18, is supposed to be extended automatically, if no party officially opposes it. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned last Thursday that the extension could become problematic for Russia because, he said, clauses providing for the export of Russian grain and fertilizer without Western sanctions were not being respected.
“Our further stance will depend on tangible progress in normalizing our agricultural exports, not in words but in action,” in light of this, Veršinin also warned today, adding that this includes “bank payments, transport logistics, the ‘unfreezing’ of financial activities and the supply of ammonia via the Toljati-Odesa gas pipeline”.
A day earlier, during his visit to Kyiv, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres highlighted the necessity of extending the agreement on global food security and food prices, which his host, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, also agreed with.
Extension of sanctions against Russia
The Council of the EU extended for six months, until September 15, sanctions against 1,473 individuals and 205 entities from Russia for undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, Brussels announced.
Sanctions include travel restrictions for natural persons, freezing of assets and a ban on providing funds from funds or other economic sources.
After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year, the European Union responded by greatly expanding sanctions against Russia to significantly weaken its economic base, deprive it of access to key technology and markets, and significantly reduce its ability to lead wars.
In its conclusions on February 9, the Council of the EU once again expressed its firm condemnation of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, including as a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and as one that has brought immense suffering and destruction to Ukraine and its population. They called on Russia to immediately stop the war.
The European Union will stand by Ukraine as long as necessary, and remains unwavering in its support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Council of the EU also announced.