Breaking: Ukraine may be losing up to 100 lives a day in east

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We were up near the front line yesterday. The main thrust of the Russian activities at the moment is a town called Severodonetsk. Ukrainian military soldiers have told us it is largely surrounded and they are undoubtedly under pressure.

They’ve taken serious casualties. A Ukrainian military source there said one unit that went into the line there with 240 men came out with 135 – the others killed, wounded or taken prisoner.

The Russians have taken some territory – villages and little towns – but it’s a very heavily defended area. They’ve been fighting around there since 2014 so there are concrete Ukrainian positions that are hard to overcome. But the Russians are pushing and putting a lot of pressure there.

A couple of days ago in Moscow, the ministry of defence said they would take the whole of the Luhansk region. Donbas is made up of two regions – Luhansk and Donetsk.

It could be that if Putin got to the point where he took the whole of the Luhansk region and then tried to do something similar in Donetsk, he could then say: “This is a victory guys.”

It would be nothing like the victory they were after when all this started in February, but one he could declare anyway. The Ukrainian authorities are very anxious that doesn’t happen.Article share tools

A verdict is expected in the first war crimes trial to be held in Ukraine since the war started.

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, has pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian a few days after the invasion began.

Prosecutors say Shishimarin was commanding a unit in a tank division when his convoy came under attack.

He and four other soldiers stole a car, and as they travelled near Chupakhivka, they encountered the 62-year-old man on a bicycle, they said.

According to prosecutors, Shishimarin was ordered to kill the civilian and used a Kalashnikov assault rifle to do so.

The soldier faces life in jail.

Ukraine has so far identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes committed by Russia.

Moscow has denied its troops have targeted civilians, but investigators have been collecting evidence of possible war crimes to bring before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Ukraine may be losing between 50-100 lives in the east every day, President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a press briefing on Sunday.

He said those killed were defending Ukraine in “the most difficult direction”.

Zelensky did not elaborate further but the comments appear to be a reference to military losses and are a sign of how fierce the fighting is in the east.

Russian forces have stepped up their attempts to capture cities in the eastern Donbas region, with a focus on the city of Severodonetsk.

Report from: Jeremy Bowen