Number of civilians killed in Ukraine ‘considerably higher’ than reported, says U.N.

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has released a count of the number of civilian casualties in Russia’s war on Ukraine so far, saying that 6,884 people are known to have died in Ukraine, including 429 children, between 24 February 2022 to 26 December 2022.

The agency says that the actual figure is likely to be “considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.”

In Other Developments:

* Russia announced it would ban oil sales to countries that abide by a price cap imposed this month by the West, while its forces were involved in heavy fighting around the bombed-out ghost town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

FIGHTING

* Despite an intensification in the fighting, the frontline in eastern Ukraine remains little changed, with neither side making any major advances, said Britain’s Ministry of Defence and Ukraine military analysts.

* Fighting was particularly intense around the strategic eastern city of Bakhmut in Donetsk province and Svatove, further north in Luhansk province, Britain’s defence ministry said.

* In Bakhmut, home to 70,000 people before the war and now in ruins, Reuters reporters saw fires burning in a large residential building, while debris littered the streets and most buildings had had their windows blown out.

* Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said in a YouTube video that fighting had intensified with Russia deploying armoured vehicles and tanks.

* In his nightly video message on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the situation along the eastern frontline in Donbas “difficult and painful”.

Reuters could not independently verify battlefield reports.

DIPLOMACY

* Putin said he was open to negotiations and he blamed Ukraine and its Western allies for failing to engage in talks.

* The United States and its NATO allies together with Ukraine want to defeat Russia “on the battlefield” in order to destroy it, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the state TASS agency in remarks published on Monday.

* Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday reaffirmed her government’s “full support” for Ukraine in a call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, her office said in a statement.

QUOTES

“We will continue preparing the armed forces and Ukraine’s security for next year. This will be a decisive year. We understand the risks of winter. We understand what needs to be done in the spring,” said Zelenskiy.

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