The creeping losses come as the West rushes to send more firepower to Ukraine as fighting intensifies in the eastern Donbass region. Britain said on Monday it would send missile launch systems that can be used to strike targets up to 50 miles away, despite Kremlin threats it would respond. The announcement comes after the United States pledged to send similar weapons to Ukraine.
It will take at least a few weeks for Ukrainian forces to be trained in how to use long-range weapons, US officials have said, and it remains unclear whether joint efforts by the West to arm Ukraine with more powerful systems will be enough to defeat them. Support the latest developments of Russia.
Ukrainian commanders sought to raise the morale of the troops. Speaking to reporters on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky – who a day earlier visited units in Lyschansk, a town adjacent to Severodonetsk – said Ukraine had “every chance” of retaking the city. Kirillo Budanov, the head of the country’s military intelligence, noted that the “occupiers” are gradually being expelled from Severodonetsk.
The killing of Russian Major General Roman Kutuzov, which was confirmed by Russian state media, appears to bolster these allegations. Kutuzov was the fourth general whose death in Ukraine was confirmed by Russian officials or pro-Kremlin media. Ukraine claims to have killed 12 generals, with the exception of Kutuzov.
However, on Monday, Zelensky acknowledged that the “holding ground” Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk and Lesichansk were outnumbered by the “stronger” Russian forces. He also referred to both places as the “Dead Cities”.
Speaking at France’s annual Victory Day celebration on Monday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley compared the suffering of Ukrainians to the “horrors” they suffered “at the hands of the Nazi invaders” during World War II. Milley and his counterparts from other pro-Ukraine countries are meeting this week in the Normandy countryside to discuss how they can help the government in Kyiv.
“The world has come together to support the defense of Ukraine against a determined occupier,” Milley said, adding that the battle now is about preserving the principle that “strong countries can only conquer small countries.”
He said, “This aggression cannot be left standing.”
Ukrainian officials testified at the United Nations headquarters in New York about the escalation of sexual violence in Ukraine. Natalia Kabrovska, of the Ukraine Women’s Fund, spoke before a UN Security Council session on how Russian forces use rape “as terrorism to control civilians in the temporarily occupied territories.” Pramila Patten, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said the UN had received 124 reports of sexual violence during the war, which is the “tip of the iceberg”.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency also reported that there were “extremely stressful and difficult working conditions” at a nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, which is under Russian control, which organizers have not yet been able to visit.
Meanwhile, the British Ministry of Defense said on Monday that it is possible that Russia has installed new air defense systems in the Black Sea, south of Odessa on Snake Island. Anti-aircraft missile units believed to be stationed there would provide cover for its ships operating in the area, which have been vulnerable to attacks by Ukrainian forces. And in April, the Russian ship Moskva sank in the Black Sea after Ukraine said it had bombed the ship with two anti-ship missiles. In February, Ukrainian fighters on Snake Island were captured and held as prisoners after defying Moskva’s demand to surrender.
Russia has begun handing over the bodies of Ukrainian fighters killed during the siege of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to Ukraine, the Associated Press reported Monday. The remains are subject to a DNA test to verify their identities.
Russia and the West have also traded punitive measures against high-profile figures, with Moscow blacklisting more than 60 Americans, including Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, and a New York federal judge approving the US Department of Justice’s seizure of two private planes belonging to Roman Abramovich. Russian oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich, who until recently owned the Chelsea football team and served as a go-between between Putin and Zelensky since the start of hostilities, is accused of violating federal law by re-exporting his planes, made in the United States and worth more than $400 million.
Shayna Jacobs, Lycia Beachum, Dan Lamothe, Robin Dixon, Karen DeYoung and Brian Beach contributed to this report.