According to Zelensky, the war in Ukraine has already led to the deaths of 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers. The Ukrainian army has not yet provided any figures on the losses in its ranks, only the number of Russian soldiers killed. “We have killed about 1,300 soldiers, and the Russians are more than 12,000,” Zelensky said. However, these numbers cannot be confirmed by independent sources.
But the Russian army is also facing losses it has not suffered before in an attack. “This is the biggest setback for the Russian military in decades,” Zelensky said. Nowhere else had they suffered such heavy losses in such a short time. Our armed forces are doing everything in their power to put an end to any interest of the enemy in continuing this war. The losses of the Russians are enormous.”
According to Ukraine, the Russians lost 360 tanks, 1200 armored vehicles, 60 fighters and 80 helicopters, although these figures also cannot be verified by independent sources. However, Western intelligence sources reported heavy losses to Russia. Sometimes Russian forces surrendered en masse, Zelensky says, and other whole units tried to return to Russia. This is our war. “This is a war for our independence,” the president said.
Negotiations in Jerusalem
However, Zelensky also left room for negotiations. According to the president, Jerusalem is a potential location for negotiations with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. “Today it is not constructive to see each other in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus,” she said. These are not the places where we will find an agreement to end the war. Israel and Jerusalem in particular can play a role in this.”
Both Zelensky and Putin had frequent phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. A week earlier, Bennett traveled to Moscow for a personal meeting with Putin. Meanwhile, there were three rounds of negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Belarus, and the two foreign ministers met on Thursday in Antalya, Turkey. Those talks made little progress.
Putin spoke of “progress” in the negotiations on Friday. On Saturday, Zelensky said he was relieved that he had “received a signal from Russia”. During the last rounds of talks “we started talking,” says Zelensky himself. “And Moscow is no longer just issuing ultimatums, which is a completely different approach.”
A meeting between Putin and Zelensky is no longer excluded from the Kremlin. “But first, both delegations and ministers must do their part to ensure that presidents meet not for the sake of the process, not for the sake of talking, but for the sake of the result,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.
Zelensky also said he had asked French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz to help secure the release of the mayor of Melitopol. He was kidnapped by pro-Russian separatists on Friday. Our demand is clear: he must be released immediately. I’ve already called Counselor Schultz. I spoke with President Macron. I will speak to all the people necessary to liberate our people.” “We expect world leaders to show us how they can influence the situation.”
Kyiv mayor Ivan Fedorov was kidnapped because he “refused to cooperate with the enemy”. Fedorov was arrested while in the city’s crisis center solving supply problems. Today, 2,000 Ukrainians demonstrated in Melitopol against the Russian invasion, and to demand the release of their mayor.