On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released a video on his Telegram, as well as other social media accounts, urging Russian mothers to not allow their sons to be sent to war in Ukraine.
“I want to say it again for Russian mothers — especially for mothers of conscripts — do not send your children to war in a foreign land. Do not believe the promises that they will be sent just somewhere for exercises or just somewhere in non-combat conditions,” Zelensky said. “Check where your son is. And if you have even the slightest suspicion that your son may be sent to the war against Ukraine, act immediately. Do not give your son to death or captivity. Ukraine never wanted this dreadful war, and Ukraine doesn’t want it — but it will defend as much as necessary.”
Prior to Zelensky’s plea to mothers, the Ukrainian president spoke of the alleged death toll of Russian soldiers in the war, as well as those captured, and offered those still involved the opportunity to leave:
The number of killed Russian servicemen on the territory of Ukraine already exceeds 12,000 people. 12,000! The number of wounded invaders is many times bigger. We did not invite any of them here. And we repeat to each of the invaders: You can still save yourself at any moment. Just lay down your weapons and go home. Leave our land. The number of captured invaders has already reached such a level that the issue cannot be left to the structures that we had before the war. Therefore, today, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine established the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Thousands of enemy soldiers who have been captured or surrendered received from our state the treatment required by international conventions. But there are so many of them that a special structure is needed to deal with all related issues.
The number of casualties being reported cannot be independently verified, and claims from either side could be downplayed or inflated for purposes of propaganda.
Russia has countered Ukraine’s claim of over 12,000 deaths, alleging on March 2 that only about 498 troops had been killed and 1,597 injured, reported TASS, a Russian state-owned news agency.
TASS quoted Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov, who claimed of Ukrainian casualties: “Among Ukrainian nationalists and armed forces, the losses are as follows: over 2,870 killed and about 3,700 wounded. The confirmed data alone indicates that 572 Ukrainian servicemen have been captured.”
CBS News reported on Thursday that a U.S. official estimated that “between 5,000 and 6,000 Russian troops may have been killed in just the first two weeks” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “The official stressed, however, that this is a difficult number to assess in real time, and the number could be closer to 3,500,” CBS News added.
On Thursday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that from the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine through “midnight on 9 March 2022 (local time),” they have “recorded 1,506 civilian casualties in the country: 549 killed and 957 injured.” Of the civilian deaths, the OHCHR claims that 26 were children.