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Workers in Mariupol digging through rubble found more than 200 bodies, Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday, as the United Nations estimates the country’s civilian death toll has reached almost 4,000—though both the organization and Ukrainian officials believe the actual number to be much higher—exactly three months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
Workers found the bodies while digging through a basement of a collapsed apartment building in Mariupol, said Petro Andryushchenko, an advisor to the city’s mayor, according to the Associated Press.
The newly discovered deaths come a week after Russia carried out one of the deadliest missile strikes yet since the start of the war in Desna, a city north of Kyiv, leaving 87 dead, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech on the eve of the three-month anniversary of the war.
The Russian army has carried out 1,474 missile strikes on Ukraine with 2,275 separate missiles since it began its invasion on February 24, with most strikes hitting civilian targets, Zelensky said.
Russia has launched more than 3,000 air strikes in that time, he added.
Zelensky’s remarks came as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights estimated Monday a total of 3,930 civilians have been killed and more than 4,500 have been injured in Ukraine to date, with most dying from shelling, missile and air strikes—though the organization said actual figures are “considerably higher.”
“The occupiers are waging a very brutal war against us. Indeed, there has been no such war on the European continent for 77 years—total war [where] the enemy tries to destroy as many people and [as much] infrastructure as possible,” Zelensky said in a nightly address on May 23.
What We Don’t Know
Accurate death tolls for Ukrainian civilians and Russian soldiers. Russia has not offered an update on army deaths since its Defense Ministry said at the end of March 1,351 soldiers had been killed in the conflict. Continued fighting in Ukraine has impeded authorities’ ability to carry out accurate estimates, the UNHCR said.
At least 15,000. That’s how many Russian troops have likely been killed in the first three months of war, the same number of Soviet soldiers killed in combat during nine years of warfare in Afghanistan, the U.K. Defense Ministry estimated on Monday.
In total, authorities have estimated tens of thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have died as a result of the war. In Mariupol alone, where some of the worst fighting has occurred, the city’s mayor has said at least 10,000 people have died. Russia’s military deaths, however, likely outpace Ukraine’s. Zelensky in April told CNN about 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had died, likely a more accurate estimate than the 14,000 Ukrainian troops Russia claimed it had killed in March. Zelensky on Sunday said as many as 50 to 100 soldiers may be dying every day in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. His estimates come as Russia is stepping up the intensity of its military operations in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were holding off Russian troops seeking to attack the cities of Sloviansk and Severodonetsk as the war enters its fourth month.
200 bodies found in Mariupol as war rages in Ukraine’s east (Associated Press)
Up To 15,000 Russians Have Died In Ukraine: U.K. Defense Ministry (Forbes)
Russia-Ukraine War’s Mounting Death Toll: Latest Estimates Suggest Russian Troops Have Been Hit Harder (Forbes)