Kyiv: The Ukrainian Health Minister says that 198 people have been killed and more than 1,000 others have been wounded in the Russian offensive.
He said 1,115 people, including 33 children, were wounded in the Russian invasion that began on Thursday with massive air and missile strikes and troops forging into Ukraine from the north, east and south.
Meanwhile, Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, with artillery and cruise missiles on Saturday for a third day running and Russia’s Interfax news agency said they had captured the southeastern city of Melitopol.
Ukrainian officials were not immediately available to comment on the fate of Melitopol and Britain’s armed forces minister James Heappey cast doubt on the report, saying the city of some 150,000 people was still in Ukrainian hands.
“All of Russia’s day one objectives … and even Melitopol, which the Russians are claiming to have taken but we can’t see anything to substantiate that, are all still in Ukrainian hands,” he told BBC radio.
Western intelligence sources say Russian forces have encountered far stronger Ukrainian resistance than they had expected and this was significantly slowing their advances since their invasion began on Thursday.