More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers and around 10 civilians died in the first hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters on Thursday.
“I know that more than 40 have been killed and several dozen wounded.
“I am aware of nearly 10 civilian losses,” presidential administration aide Oleksiy Arestovych told reporters.
Ukraine’s military earlier stated that it had destroyed four Russian tanks on a road near the eastern city of Kharkiv, killed 50 troops near a town in Luhansk region and downed a sixth Russian aircraft, also in the country’s east.
Russia has denied reports that its aircraft or armoured vehicles have been destroyed.
Ukraine’s border guard service said that three of its servicemen had been killed in the southern Kherson region and that several more were wounded.
Russia’s ground forces crossed into Ukraine from several directions, Ukraine’s border guard service said, hours after President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a major offensive.
Russian tanks and other heavy equipment crossed the frontier in several northern regions, as well as from the Kremlin-annexed peninsula of Crimea in the south, the agency said.
It said one of its servicemen died in a shelling attack along the Crimean border, the first officially confirmed military death of the Russian invasion.
Ukraine has suffered heavy casualties in its eight-year conflict with Russian-backed rebels in the separatist east, but has reported no fatalities along its southern border with Crimea for some years.
After holding a series of emergency calls with world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, the Ukrainian leader convened a meeting of the top military brass, his office said.
“The armed forces of Ukraine are waging heavy combat,” presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said. “We have losses,” he added, without giving details.
“In several places, the Russian armed forces have been repelled.”
Ukrainian officials said Russia was primarily targeting military infrastructure and silos, managing to push five kilometres deep along the norther frontier.
Russia’s defence ministry said earlier it had taken out military infrastructure at Ukraine’s air bases and “suppressed” its air defences, Russian news agencies reported.
The ministry denied reports that its aircraft had been downed over Ukraine. Earlier, Ukraine’s military had said five Russian planes and one helicopter were shot down over its Luhansk region. Read More