KYIV: Ukraine said on Tuesday that the last 24 hours were the deadliest of the war so far for Russian troops, as Moscow hurls tens of thousands of freshly mobilised soldiers and mercenaries into relentless winter assaults in the east.
The Ukrainian military increased its Russian military dead by 1,030 overnight to 133,190, and described the increase as the highest of the war so far. It said its troops destroyed 25 Russian tanks in the last two days.
Moscow denies its forces have suffered losses on such a scale while also claiming to have killed a lot of Ukrainians, despite the fact that the report of enemy dead could not be independently confirmed.
The unprecedented scale of reported casualties fits accounts from both sides that describe battles in snow-covered trenches as the deadliest combat of the war, despite little progress by either side at the front.
The war is about to enter its second year at a pivotal time, with Moscow trying to regain the initiative, while Kyiv is holding out for Western tanks for a counter-offensive.
Moscow is now making full use of hundreds of thousands of troops called up over the past few months in its first mobilisation since World War II after failing to capture Kyiv last year and losing ground in the second half of 2022.
In the past few weeks, Kyiv and the West say Russia has been pouring additional troops into eastern Ukraine in hopes of being able to claim new gains around the time of the first anniversary of its full-scale invasion later this month.
Russia has had its first gains for half a year in the last few weeks. The progress hasn't been easy to grasp, with Moscow yet to capture a single major population centre in its winter campaign despite thousands of dead.
Fighting has focused on the Ukrainian-held city of Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk province, a city with a pre-war population of around 75,000, which Russia has tried to encircle.
Moscow has also launched an attack further south against Vuhledar, a Ukrainian-held bastion on high ground at the strategic intersection between the eastern and southern front lines.