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‘Maintain the sovereignty of a free Ukrainian nation’: War with Russia into third year

Rebecca Barnabi
(© Sabphoto – stock.adobe.com)

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and approximately 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the fighting.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky revealed the death toll Sunday, as reported by Newsweek, but would not share how many have been wounded so that Russia cannot know how many Ukrainians have left the battlefield.

“Each person is a very big loss for us,” the Ukrainian leader said in a rare statement. “It is very painful for us.”

The death toll in August 2022 was reported at less than 9,000 by Ukraine’s former top soldier Valery Zaluzhny. A year later, U.S. officials reported approximately 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers dead and nearly 120,000 wounded.

On Sunday, Zelensky said 180,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war. However, Ukraine’s military estimated Russia’s casualty count at 409,820, including 810 in the past 24 hours.

The U.S. reported in early May 2023 that Russia lost 100,000 casualties in only five months with intensified fighting near Bakhmut.

On October 10, 2023, Russia attacked the city of Donetsk and the battle lasted more than four months before Ukrainian soldiers left the city on February 17, 2024.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner of Virginia released a statement on the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine:

“Over the past two years, Ukrainians have displayed remarkable courage, resolve, and strength as they fend off Russia’s brutal invasion. While Putin naively expected that Kyiv would fall in a matter of days, Ukraine has instead displayed tremendous willingness and ability to fight and decimated Russia’s military capabilities for some time to come. For most of the past two years, the United States and our NATO allies have come together in a powerful display of unity to provide Ukraine with indispensable support,” Warner said.  

According to Warner, the U.S. faces “a pivotal moment” as negotiations for funding Ukraine’s war effort remain stalled in Congress.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher. Ukrainians sorely need this aid to continue fighting, and our partners as well as authoritarian leaders around the globe alike are closely watching to see if America’s word can be trusted. Walking away now would be a mistake of historic proportions,” Warner said. 

After two years of fighting, Warner said an aid package from the U.S. is crucial “so Ukraine can continue their fight for democracy over autocracy and preserve the path to a peaceful resolution of this conflict that will maintain the sovereignty of a free Ukrainian nation.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.