Up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are dying each day in war with Russia says Zelenksy

As the battle for Ukraine’s Donbas region increasingly becomes the kind of grim slog that chewed up thousands of soldiers during the First World War, President Volodymyr Zelensky has given the clearest indication yet of the price Ukrainians are paying to defend their country.

“We're losing 60-100 soldiers per day as killed in action and something around 500 people as wounded in action," he said.

He admitted that the current situation in Donbas is “very difficult” but said that despite intense Russian pressure Ukrainian troops are “holding our defensive perimeter”.

Relentless Russian artillery barrages are forcing the defenders to adopt century-old trench warfare tactics.

Konstantinos Grivas, a professor of geopolitics and modern weapons systems at the Hellenic Military Academy in Athens, told Al Jazeera: “The Ukrainian resistance has begun to bend under the pressure of the enormous firepower the Russians are unleashing against it…

“We’re seeing a war of super-high intensity. To win in this environment you have to be prepared to unleash a lot of destruction and to suffer great losses. It’s a question of who holds out longest”.

Freelance war correspondent Neil Hauer said that one of his contacts within the Ukrainian force defending Severodonetsk saw 56 of his 60-man squad killed in a recent rotation to the front.

But if Ukraine can hold out a little longer, new hardware from the US – in particular, advanced artillery assets – could help level the playing field.

“We’ve seen how important artillery is on both sides,” said Grivas. “Nothing terribly advanced – multiple launch rocket systems from the sixties, and rockets … with long-range and high accuracy and high destructive power."

Ukraine is already getting live “technical support” from the US military.

Military reporter Steve Benyon revealed: “A Washington state Guardsman received a phone call from a Ukrainian who has an issue with the Javelin.

“Guardsman talked him through it, [and] 30 minutes later, Guardsman gets a call from the Ukrainian who just blew up a Russian vehicle”.

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