(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday mocked Moscow’s insistence that the war against his nation was going well, asking how President Vladimir Putin could have approved a plan that involved so many Russians dying.
Putin, speaking on Tuesday, said Russia would achieve all of its “noble” aims and “rhythmically and calmly” continue what it calls a special operation.
Moscow said on March 25, its most recent update, that 1,351 soldiers had been killed since the start of the campaign. Ukraine says the real number is closer to 20,000.
“In Russia it was once again said that their so-called ‘special operation’ is supposedly going according to plan. But, to be honest, no one in the world understands how such a plan could even come about,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.
“How could a plan that provides for the death of tens of thousands of their own soldiers in a little more than a month of war come about? Who could approve such a plan?”
Zelenskiy asked how many dead Russian soldiers would be acceptable to Putin, giving a range of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.
Moscow had lost more men in 48 days since the war started than in the 10-year Afghan war from 1979 to 1989, he said.
Zelenskiy said that while some had made fun of the Russians, their failures in the field and inferior technology, their opponents were not all hopeless.
“We must understand that not all Russian tanks are stuck in fields, not all enemy soldiers simply flee the battlefield and not all of them are conscripts who do not know how to hold weapons properly,” he said.
“This does not mean that we should be afraid of them. This means that we must not diminish the accomplishments of our fighters, our army.”
(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Ron Popeski; editing by Grant McCool)