Kyiv, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — Russia on Friday rejected Western demands to withdraw completely from Ukraine as part of any future talks to end the war, saying such demands would only escalate the conflict. effectively halt any negotiations to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, Russian attacks continued, and a Ukrainian official said that his country had lost between 10,000 and 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers in nine months of war against Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready for talks, but Western demands that Moscow withdraw its troops first are unacceptable.
Putin spoke by phone on Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who told Putin clearly that “there must be a diplomatic solution as soon as possible, which also includes the withdrawal of Russian troops,” Scholz’s office reported.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden said he would be willing to talk to Putin if he showed he really wanted to end the invasion and withdraw from Ukraine.
In a statement after the phone conversation with Scholz, the Kremlin reported that Putin again blamed the West for encouraging Ukraine to prolong the war by supplying arms.
Putin said Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure were “forced and inevitable”, as Ukraine reportedly bombed a bridge on the Crimean peninsula – which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 – and power facilities.
Russian forces have been shelling Ukrainian infrastructure since October, leaving millions without power in the bitterly cold winter. Scholz’s office said that in the phone conversation he “particularly condemned Russian airstrikes on civilian infrastructure” and said Germany was committed to helping defend Ukraine.
The Ukrainian General Staff reported on Friday that Russian forces continued rocket attacks on infrastructure and airstrikes against Ukrainian army positions, adding that Russian forces were advancing towards a dozen towns, including Bakhmut and Avdivka , which are important goals. Formerly Russian.
An aide to Ukraine’s president said military chiefs say between 10,000 and 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the nine-month war against Russia, far fewer than Western leaders estimate.
On Thursday night, Mykhailo Podolić, one of Zelensky’s top advisers, reported new figures on Ukrainian soldiers killed in the battle, noting that the number of wounded soldiers was high and that civilian casualties were “significant”.
“We have official figures from the high command and they range from 10,000 to 12,500-13,000,” Podolić told Channel 24.
The military has not confirmed such figures and it was unusual for a Ukrainian official to provide such a tally. The latest data was from late August, when the chief of the armed forces said some 9,000 soldiers had been killed. In June, Podolić indicated that up to 200 soldiers were dying every day.
On Wednesday, the president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, Ursula von der Leyen, reported that 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed before her office corrected her comments, calling them inaccurate, noting that the number Both refer to the dead as the injured.
Last month, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said that more than 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “more than 100,000” Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war so far. He added that it was “probably similar on the Ukrainian side.”
In its latest weekly update published on Monday, the UN human rights office said it had recorded 6,655 civilian deaths and 10,368 injuries, but acknowledged that its numbers only included casualties it had confirmed and that the exact number The numbers are likely to be much higher…
Ukrainians are bracing for freezing temperatures as Russia has stepped up attacks on infrastructure including power plants and transformers, leaving many people without heat, water or electricity.
Ukraine has faced artillery shelling and drone attacks since early October. Shelling has been particularly intense in Kherson in the south, since Ukrainian forces captured the city nearly three weeks ago.
Local officials said two-thirds of Kherson already had power Thursday night, after fresh Russian attacks cut off much of the recently restored power.