Vladimir Putin‘s barbaric invasion of Ukraine has suffered another devastating blow after his force’s death toll rose to 19,500 according to Kyiv estimates.

Russia has only admitted 1,351 of its troops have died fighting in Ukraine since Putin invaded on February 24, a fraction of the figure estimated by Ukraine’s armed forces.

The catastrophic death toll comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defended his criticism of NATO and the UN, saying he has had enough of diplomacy with Vladimir Putin.

Zelensky told CBS 60 minutes on Sunday: ‘When you are [working] at diplomacy, there are no results. All this is very bureaucratic. That’s why the way I’m talking to them is absolutely justifiable. I don’t have any more lives [to give]. I don’t have any more emotions.

‘I’m no longer interested in their diplomacy that leads to the destruction of my country. A lot of countries have changed their mind about Ukraine and about our people. But I think we’ve paid too high price for that.’

It comes amid warnings from British intelligence chiefs that Putin’s troops could use white phosphorous munitions in Mariupol as fighting there intensifies, with Ukrainian forces saying they are preparing for the ‘last battle’ in the city. 

While strictly not considered a chemical weapon, the substance burns fiercely and can cause horrendous injuries, and its use on civilians constitutes a war crime. 

Britain’s Ministry of Defence today said Russian forces prior use of phosphorous munitions in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine ‘raises the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city continues’. 

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its 47th day, evidence of Russian troops committing war crimes continues to mount.

In Buzova, a village in the Kyiv region, Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 50 people, all of whom were shot at close range, were discovered on a road. Another mass grave with dozens of bodies were also found in the village. 

Residents look at destroyed Russian tanks outskirts of Buzova village, west of Kyiv, on Sunday

A mother reacts as police members exhume the body of her son, who according to the head of the village was killed by Russian soldiers, from a well at a fuel station in Buzova, on Sunday

A mother reacts as police members exhume the body of her son, who according to the head of the village was killed by Russian soldiers, from a well at a fuel station in Buzova, on Sunday

Oleg, 56, mourns for his mother Inna, 86, killed during the war against Russia in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday

Oleg, 56, mourns for his mother Inna, 86, killed during the war against Russia in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday

Residents carry their belongings near buildings destroyed by Russian troops, in the southern port city of Mariupol on Sunday

Residents carry their belongings near buildings destroyed by Russian troops, in the southern port city of Mariupol on Sunday

A roadway is shown damaged by the attacks of Russian forces in the Makariv region near Kyiv on April 10, 2022 in Marakiv, Ukraine

A roadway is shown damaged by the attacks of Russian forces in the Makariv region near Kyiv on April 10, 2022 in Marakiv, Ukraine

Russian troops drive an armoured vehicle on a road outside the southern port city of Mariupol on Sunday

Russian troops drive an armoured vehicle on a road outside the southern port city of Mariupol on Sunday

The catastrophic death toll comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defended his criticism of NATO and the UN, saying he has had enough of diplomacy with Vladimir Putin

The catastrophic death toll comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defended his criticism of NATO and the UN, saying he has had enough of diplomacy with Vladimir Putin

Russia on Monday continued its shelling of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, but battling Ukrainian forces repulsed several assaults and destroyed Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery equipment, the UK’s MoD said.

The MoD warned that Russia’s ‘continued reliance’ on unguided bombs in Ukraine increases the risk of further civilian casualties as the weapons decrease their ability to discriminate when targeting and conducting strikes. 

Zelensky on Sunday warned Ukrainians to brave for a Russian onslaught in the country’s east within days, as he vowed that his forces will ‘respond’. 

Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine in the eastern Donbas region since 2014 and parts of the region are under Moscow’s control. 

‘Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state,’ Zelenksy said in his nightly address on Sunday. ‘They can use even more missiles against us, even more air bombs.

‘But we are preparing for their actions. We will respond.’ 

Tens of thousands of Russian troops are heading to the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk – known collectively as the Donbas.

The Kremlin is seeking a victory there to justify its ‘special military operation’, which has failed to capture any major cities. According to Western officials, Russian commanders believe the Donbas represents their best chance of success.

They have retreated from other areas, including around Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, to focus their efforts there. But Ukrainian forces are determined to push them back.

Russia is believed to be seeking a link between occupied Crimea and Moscow-backed separatist territories Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas.

Lugansk governor Sergiy Gaiday warned that the region could suffer as badly as Mariupol, a besieged port city that even pro-Russian authorities say has been 70 percent ruined by fighting. 

‘The battle for Donbas will last several days, but during these days our cities may be completely destroyed,’ Gaiday said.

Soldiers hold a dismounted machine gun from a Russian tank destroyed during Russia's invasion near the village of Motyzhyn, in the Kyiv region, on Sunday

Soldiers hold a dismounted machine gun from a Russian tank destroyed during Russia’s invasion near the village of Motyzhyn, in the Kyiv region, on Sunday

Military sappers dismount a machine gun from a Russian tank destroyed during Russia's invasion near the village of Motyzhyn on Sunday

Military sappers dismount a machine gun from a Russian tank destroyed during Russia’s invasion near the village of Motyzhyn on Sunday

Residents carry their belongings along a street near a building burnt during the invasion of Ukraine in Mariupol

Residents carry their belongings along a street near a building burnt during the invasion of Ukraine in Mariupol

A view shows the building of a theatre destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol on Sunday

A view shows the building of a theatre destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol on Sunday

Civilians fleeing from the conflict zones in Kyiv, Kramatorsk, Kharkov, Mariupol, take temporary shelter at the sports hall of Lviv Polytechnic National University in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday

Civilians fleeing from the conflict zones in Kyiv, Kramatorsk, Kharkov, Mariupol, take temporary shelter at the sports hall of Lviv Polytechnic National University in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday 

In a later Telegram message, he said Russian troops knew that ‘there is no surviving critical or any other infrastructure in our area’.

‘Therefore, every shelling of the housing stock is a deliberate terrorist attack.’

Ukraine is believed to have tens of thousands of soldiers in the east, the majority of its military force, ahead of what is believed to be a decisive battle in the war.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are preparing for a ‘last battle’ to control the southern port of Mariupol, besieged by Russians since the invasion, marines in the city said Monday.

‘Today will probably be the last battle, as the ammunition is running out,’ the 36th marine brigade of the Ukrainian armed forces said on Facebook.

‘It’s death for some of us, and captivity for the rest,’ it added, saying it had been ‘pushed back’ and ‘surrounded’ by the Russian army.

It said it had been defending the port for 47 days and ‘did everything possible and impossible’ to retain control of the city.

Russian forces have said that fighting has recently centred around the city’s Azovstal iron and steel works and in the port.

The marines said that is where ‘the enemy gradually pushed us back’ and ‘surrounded us with fire, and is now trying to destroy us.’

The brigade said around half of its men are wounded.

‘The mountain of wounded makes up almost half of the brigade. Those whose limbs are not torn off return to battle.’

‘The infantry was all killed and the shooting battles are now conducted by artillerymen, anti-aircraft gunners, radio operators, drivers and cooks. Even the orchestra.’

The marines complained over a lack of support from Ukraine’s military leadership: ‘No one wants to communicate with us anymore because we’ve been written off.’

Mariupol has seen the most intense fighting since the Kremlin launched its attack on Ukraine, with the city being virtually razed to the ground. Thousands of civilians are thought to have died in the city.

A US defence expert told Sky News that the next three weeks will ‘determine the outcome of the war’ in Ukraine.

He said that whilst Putin’s troops had ‘reassessed their objectives in the war’ to focus on eastern Ukraine, their ‘major problem’ is whether they can ‘reconstitute enough combat power’ to take on a ‘very experienced’ Ukrainian force there.   

The US defence expert said: ‘The next three weeks will be decisive. It will determine the outcome of the war.

‘If we in the West can increase our sense of urgency in supplying the Ukrainians, wrapped up to the level of the Berlin Airlift, the Ukrainians can really come out of this with a victory.’ 

A Ukrainian soldier stands watch by a building severely damaged in attacks by Russian forces in the Makariv region near Kyiv on Sunday

A Ukrainian soldier stands watch by a building severely damaged in attacks by Russian forces in the Makariv region near Kyiv on Sunday

A building is shown severely damaged by the attacks of Russian forces in the Makariv region on Sunday

A building is shown severely damaged by the attacks of Russian forces in the Makariv region on Sunday

Meanwhile Ramzan Kadyrov, the powerful head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, said early on Monday that there will be an offensive by Russian forces not only on the besieged port of Mariupol, but also on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.

‘There will be an offensive… not only on Mariupol, but also on other places, cities and villages,’ Kadyrov said in a video posted on his Telegram channel.

‘Luhansk and Donetsk – we will fully liberate in the first place… and then take Kyiv and all other cities.’

Kadyrov, who has often described himself as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘foot soldier,’ said there should be no doubt about Kyiv.

‘I assure you: not one step will be taken back,’ Kadyrov said.

Kadyrov has been repeatedly accused by the United States and European Union of rights abuses, which he denies.

Ukrainian troops have repelled scores of Russian attacks, killing 19,500 Russian troops and masses of artillery according to Kyiv’s estimates.

Ukraine’s defence ministry said as of April 11, the Russian forces have lost over 19,500 soldiers and officers, 723 tanks, 1,923 armoured personnel vehicles, 347 artillery systems, 154 Russian aircraft, 137 helicopters, and 119 unmanned aerial vehicles.

Putin’s forces have also lost 111 multiple rocket launcher systems, 1,387 various motor vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 55 anti-aircraft systems, and four short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) systems.  

But the Russian military said on Monday that it destroyed a shipment of air defense missile systems in Ukraine provided by the West.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the military used sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles to destroy four S-300 air defense missile launchers on the southern outskirts of the city of Dnipro. 

He said about 25 Ukrainian troops were also hit by the strike on Sunday.

Konashenkov said in a statement Monday that Ukraine had received the air defense systems from a European country that he didn’t name. Konashenkov’s claim couldn’t be independently verified.

Last week, Slovakia said it had handed over its Soviet-designed S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine, which has pleaded with the West to give it more weapons, including long-range air defense systems.

Residents look at a destroyed Russian tank outskirts of Buzova village, west of Kyiv, on April 10

Residents look at a destroyed Russian tank outskirts of Buzova village, west of Kyiv, on April 10

Slovakia’s prime minister office issued a statement late Sunday calling the news that the S-300 system given to Ukraine was destroyed ‘disinformation.’ It was unclear, however, whether both sides are referring to the same airstrike. 

The Russians have targeted missile defense systems in three different locations in recent days.

Meanwhile, Austria’s chancellor on Monday will become the first European leader to visit Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Kyiv prepares for a huge Russian offensive in the country’s east.

Karl Nehammer said he would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is expected to raise alleged war crimes in devastated areas around Kyiv that were under Russian occupation, including the town of Bucha.  

Ukrainian authorities say over 1,200 bodies have been found in the area so far and that they are weighing cases against ‘500 suspects’ including Putin and other top Russian officials.  

The chancellor decided to organise the meeting after he met Zelensky in Kyiv on Saturday, his office said.

He wants ‘to do everything so that progress towards peace can be made’ even if the chances of success are minimal, the spokesperson added.

‘We are militarily neutral, but have a clear stance on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine,’ Nehammer tweeted, calling for humanitarian corridors, a ceasefire and a full investigation of war crimes. 

Buildings are shown destroyed or severely damaged by the attacks of Russian forces in the Makariv region on Sunday

Buildings are shown destroyed or severely damaged by the attacks of Russian forces in the Makariv region on Sunday

A man pushies a bicycle by a buidling severely damaged in attacks by Russian forces in Makariv on Sunday

A man pushies a bicycle by a buidling severely damaged in attacks by Russian forces in Makariv on Sunday

EU foreign ministers will also meet Monday to discuss a sixth round of sanctions, with concerns that divisions over a ban on Russia gas and oil imports could blunt their impact. 

The chancellor decided to organise the meeting after he met Zelensky in Kyiv on Saturday, his office said.

He wants ‘to do everything so that progress towards peace can be made’ even if the chances of success are minimal, the spokesperson added.

‘We are militarily neutral, but have a clear stance on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine,’ Nehammer tweeted, calling for humanitarian corridors, a ceasefire and a full investigation of war crimes. 

Over the weekend, ongoing attacks on the region hampered evacuations, and 12 people were killed in and around northeast Kharkiv, regional governor Oleg Synegubov said.

‘The Russian army continues to wage war on civilians due to a lack of victories at the front,’ Synegubov said on Telegram.

In Dnipro, an industrial city of around a million inhabitants, a rain of Russian missiles nearly destroyed the local airport, causing an unknown number of casualties, local authorities said.

Gaiday said a missile strike on a railway station in the city of Kramatorsk on Friday, which killed 57 people, had left many afraid to flee. Russia has denied involvement in the strike.

He estimated just 20 to 25 per cent of the local population remained, with ‘fewer and fewer’ now evacuating.

Over the weekend, nearly 50 wounded and elderly patients were transported from the east in a hospital train by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the first such evacuation since the attack on the Kramatorsk station.

Electrician Evhen Perepelytsia was evacuated after he lost his leg in shelling in his hometown of Hirske in Lugansk.

‘We hope that the worst is over – that after what I’ve been through, it will be better,’ said the 30-year-old after arrival in the western city of Lviv.

On Monday, the Chairman of the Board of Ukrainian Railways Alexander Kamyshin said another railway station in the east had been attacked overnight.

‘They continue to aim at the railway infrastructure,’ he wrote. 

The World Bank warned Sunday that Ukraine’s economy would collapse by 45.1 per cent this year – a much bleaker outlook than it predicted even a month ago – while Russia would see an 11.2 per cent decline in GDP. 

Ukraine’s allies have sought to pile pressure on Moscow over allegations its troops carried out war crimes in areas around Kyiv, and there has been little sign that intermittent peace talks are progressing.

The Pope has urged an Easter ceasefire, denouncing a war where ‘defenceless civilians’ suffered ‘heinous massacres and atrocious cruelty.’

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Sunday accused the Kremlin and Russian media of laying the groundwork for war ‘for many years’.

‘Russian political elites and propaganda have been inciting hatred, dehumanising Ukrainians, nurturing Russian superiority and laying ground for these atrocities,’ he tweeted.

But in an interview with NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’, Kuleba said he was still open to negotiating with the Russians.

‘If sitting down with the Russians will help me to prevent at least one massacre like in Bucha, or at least another attack like in Kramatorsk, I have to take that opportunity,’ he said.

Bucha – where authorities say hundreds were killed, some with their hands bound – has become a byword for the brutality allegedly inflicted under Russian occupation.

But other villages, towns and roads on the northwest flank of Kyiv have their own tragedies.

An AFP reporter saw at least two corpses inside a manhole at a petrol station on a motorway outside Kyiv on Sunday, in a mix of civilian and military clothing.

A distraught woman peered in before breaking down, clawing at the earth and wailing: ‘My little son.’

Meanwhile, Zelensky on Sunday night accused Russia of trying to evade responsibility for war crimes.

‘When people lack the courage to admit their mistakes, apologise, adapt to reality and learn, they turn into monsters. And when the world ignores it, the monsters decide that it is the world that has to adapt to them. Ukraine will stop all this,’ Mr Zelensky said.

‘The day will come when they will have to admit everything. Accept the truth.’

He again called on Western countries, including Germany, to provide more assistance to Ukraine. 

During talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Zelensky said he discussed ‘how to strengthen sanctions against Russia and how to force Russia to seek peace’.

‘I am glad to note that the German position has recently changed in favour of Ukraine. I consider it absolutely logical,’ Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, chilling satellite images on Friday revealed hundreds of Russian armoured vehicles heading for a major confrontation with Ukrainian troops.

The grainy pictures show a column of trucks, some towing artillery, stretching for more than eight miles through Russian-held territory. The convoy is heading towards eastern Ukraine where decisive battles are expected.  

The convoy was photographed moving through the town of Velykyi Burluk, near the city of Kharkiv, on Friday

The convoy was photographed moving through the town of Velykyi Burluk, near the city of Kharkiv, on Friday

The convoy is heading towards eastern Ukraine where decisive battles are expected. Tens of thousands of Russian troops are heading to the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk – known collectively as the Donbas

The convoy is heading towards eastern Ukraine where decisive battles are expected. Tens of thousands of Russian troops are heading to the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk – known collectively as the Donbas

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said on Friday: ‘Ukraine is ready for big battles. Ukraine must win them, including the Donbas. And once that happens, Ukraine will have a more powerful negotiating positions.’

Mr Podolyak suggested the fighting could continue for a further three weeks. After that he said he expected presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin to meet to agree a negotiated settlement. 

Satellite imagery firm Maxar Technologies shared the images yesterday. The convoy was photographed moving through the town of Velykyi Burluk, near the city of Kharkiv, on Friday.  

The Kremlin is seeking a victory there to justify its ‘special military operation’, which has failed to capture any major cities. According to Western officials, Russian commanders believe the Donbas represents their best chance of success

The Kremlin is seeking a victory there to justify its ‘special military operation’, which has failed to capture any major cities. According to Western officials, Russian commanders believe the Donbas represents their best chance of success



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