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Over 2,000 civilians killed in Ukraine: Reports

"Russia wants to erase our history," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemning a Russian missile strike that hit a Holocaust memorial in the capital here on Tuesday calling it "beyond humanity".

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Kyiv: The Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday said more than 2,000 civilians have been killed so far in Russia’s invasion, which began nearly a week back. One of those killed was an Indian student in Kharkiv’s shelling on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian embassy in Turkey gave the figure, quoting the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, the BBC reported.

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“Russia wants to erase our history,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemning a Russian missile strike that hit a Holocaust memorial in the capital here on Tuesday calling it “beyond humanity”.

“Such a missile strike shows that for many people in Russia our Kyiv is completely foreign. They know nothing about our capital. About our history,” Zelensky rued the attack on Babyn Yar memorial that commemorates the massacre of more than 33,000 Jews by Nazi troops in Kyiv during World War Two.

As columns of tanks faced Tiananmen-like resistance from common Ukrainians in eastern and north-western corner cities of the nation under attack, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine on Wednesday issued an “urgent” advisory and asked all Indian nationals in Ukraine to leave Kharkiv immediately.

“Urgent advisory to all Indian nationals in Kharkiv immediately. Proceed to Pesochin, Babaye and Bezlyudovka as soon as possible. Under all circumstances they must reach these settlements by 1800 hrs Ukrainian time today,” the advisory issued on Twitter said. Zelensky’s video rang out warnings to his countrymen, reminding them, “…they (Russian) have an order to erase our history. Erase our country. Erase us all.”

Seven days into the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it remained unclear how many casualties Russia has sustained, as despite Ukranian Army putting out details of Russian casualties, Moscow has not made it clewar yet. The Ukrainian government said on Wednesday the “indicative” number of Russia’s losses stood at 5,840 people.

Russia has only admitted it had “any losses” four days after it started the war, but stopped short had not given any numbers. But multiple videos and pictures from battlefields going viral on social media, including those put out by official Facebook, Twitter and Telegram handles of Ukranian authorities, suggesting invading forces have sustained severe casualties.

The Kyiv Independent put out a report on the fate of Russia’s 35th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade in the war in Ukraine. Dozens of Russian military service members were killed in action near the city of Chernihiv as a result of Ukrainian resistance in late February. Afterwards, scores of dead Russian bodies were sent home secretly, without the Russian leadership ever admitting their deaths, the reports said.

The Kyiv Independent said it has obtained a WhatsApp audio message recorded by a woman residing in the city of Aleysk in Russia’s Altai region some 3,500 km east of Kyiv, the home base for the 35th Brigade. In the voice message, the unidentified woman weeped telling her fellow WhatsApp group member that the local “tank brigade” was “totally destroyed in Ukraine.”

In particular, she mentioned that “just 18 out of 150 guys survived,” probably meaning one of the brigade’s formations was destroyed by Ukrainian troops. Besides, the speaker said the first batch of 45 coffins, mostly young people from the town and villages nearby, were coming to Aleysk on the day of the recorded voice message.

The woman, still weeping, also said some of the killed were her neighbors and acquaintances. She particularly mentioned a military service-member named Evgeniy Zhilin. This name can be found in the leaked register of 120,000 Russian soldiers allegedly involved in the invasion of Ukraine published on March 1 by Ukraine’s Center for Defense Strategies, a think tank.

There is also a deleted VK social media account of a Evgeniy Zhilin from Aleysk, the kyivindependent.com reported. According to the woman, the killed were mostly very young men. The local community found out about their deaths the day before the recording was made, and it mourned the loss.

The revelation is partially confirmed by several pieces of evidence about Russia’s 35th Brigade’s involvement in Ukraine. It is known that the brigade’s armored formations were destroyed in armed clashes near the city of Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, on February 26 (Day 3), with lots of manpower killed or taken prisoner.

The Russian leadership continues to refuse to publish any exact data on casualties of its war in Ukraine. In most cases, Russian propaganda outlets report on Russia’s “special military operation in Ukraine” saying that no Russian casualties have been sustained. But as of early March 1, the Ukrainian military reported as many as 5,710 Russian manpower casualties since the all-out invasion’s first day on February 24, which is comparable to Russian military losses in the two-year-long First Chechen War, the Ukrainian news website said. 

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