Russia taking ‘colossal losses’ in eastern battle says Ukraine

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Ukraine acknowledged on Friday it was taking heavy losses in Russia’s assault in the east, but said Russia’s losses were even worse, as U.S. President Joe Biden called on Congress to send as much as $33 billion to help Kyiv withstand the attack.

The body of a journalist from U.S.-backed broadcaster Radio Liberty was found in rubble in the Ukrainian capital, killed in a Russian missile attack during a visit by the U.N. secretary-general.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised Biden’s offer of help, which amounts to nearly 10 times the aid Washington has sent so far since the war began on Feb. 24.

Having failed in an assault on Kyiv in the north of Ukraine last month, Russia is now trying to fully capture two eastern provinces known as the Donbas.

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Ukraine has acknowledged losing control of some towns and villages there since the assault began last week, but says Moscow’s gains have come at a massive cost to a Russian force already worn down from its earlier defeat near the capital.

“We have serious losses but the Russians’ losses are much much bigger…They have colossal losses,” presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

By pledging tens of billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine, Biden has dramatically increased U.S. involvement in the conflict. The United States and its allies are now sending heavy weapons including artillery, with what Washington says is an aim not just to repel Russia’s attack but to weaken its armed forces so it cannot menace its neighbours again.

“We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said. “The cost of this fight – it’s not cheap – but caving to aggression is going to be more costly.”

Zelenskiy tweeted: “Thank you @POTUS and the American people for their leadership in supporting Ukraine in our fight against Russian aggression. We defend common values – democracy and freedom. We appreciate the help. Today it is needed more than ever!”

Russia has said the arrival of Western arms into Ukraine means it is now fighting a “proxy war” against NATO. President Vladimir Putin threatened unspecified retaliation this week, while his foreign minister warned of a threat of nuclear war.

Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) said the body of producer Vira Hyrych had been found on Friday morning after Thursday’s missile attack destroyed the bottom two floors of a residential building. It said Hyrych had worked for Radio Liberty since 2018.

“She was going to bed when a Russian ballistic missile hit her apartment in central Kyiv. Russia’s barbarism is incomprehensible,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said. “We call on media organizations to condemn the murder of Vira and all other innocent Ukrainians.”