Ukraine says hundreds of people have been killed so far in Russia’s invasion, with fighting widespread across the country and Russian forces advancing on the capital, Kyiv.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered wide-ranging attacks on Ukraine on Thursday, hitting multiple cities and bases with air raids or shelling, and attacking by land and sea.
Ukraine’s health ministry said on Sunday that at least 352 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed since the Russian invasion began.
A further 1,684 people have been wounded, it said.
The United Nations said late on Saturday that it has confirmed at least 240 civilian casualties from the fighting, including at least 64 people killed, though it believed the “real figures are considerably higher” because many reports of casualties remain unconfirmed.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) relayed the count from the UN human rights office, which has strict methodologies and verification procedures about the toll from conflict.
The Ukrainian civilian casualties included three people who were killed on Thursday in the eastern port city of Mariupol, according to its mayor, as well as a boy who was killed in eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region after shelling struck an apartment building.
It is not clear how many Ukrainian soldiers have died during the Russian invasion.
But Kyiv reported on Friday that 18 people were killed at a military base near the Black Sea port of Odesa in the deadliest single attack of Russia’s assault.
Moscow has not released figures on casualties among its troops either.
The Ukrainian military says at least 4,500 Russian soldiers had been killed, and Moscow has acknowledged that Russian soldiers had been killed and wounded. But it has said that its losses were far lower than those suffered by Ukraine.
Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures.
Meanwhile, at least 368,000 people have now fled Ukraine into Poland and other neighbouring countries in the wake of Russia’s invasion, the UN refugee agency said on Sunday.
On the battlefield, Ukraine’s military claimed on Monday that Russia had suffered “significant losses,” including 150 tanks, 700 armoured vehicles and 26 helicopters.
For its part, Russia claimed on Sunday that it has hit more than 1,000 Ukrainian military targets since the invasion began. The “destroyed targets” include 27 command posts, 38 S-300 Buk M-1 and Osa air defence missile systems as well as 56 radars.
‘Brutal act of war’
After weeks of denying plans to invade, Putin justified his actions in a televised address early on Thursday, asserting that the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine – a claim Ukraine and its allies have slammed as false and a pretext for a wider invasion.
Putin also accused the United States and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands for Ukraine to be barred from joining NATO and for security guarantees. He has also called Ukraine an artificial creation and denied its right to statehood.
After Russia launched attacks on Thursday, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy declared martial law, cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and called on civilians to join the fight to defend Ukraine.
“As of today, our countries are on different sides of world history,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter. “Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won’t give up its freedom.”
Jens Stoltenberg, the chief of the NATO alliance, said Russia’s “brutal act of war” shattered peace in Europe, joining a chorus of world leaders who decried the attack, which could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and upend the post-Cold War security order.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced alarm over an expected health emergency in Ukraine.
“Amid the conflict rapidly unfolding in Ukraine, the WHO Regional Office for Europe reiterates its deepest concern for the safety, health and wellbeing of all civilians impacted by the crisis in the country and possibly beyond,” the office said in a statement, warning any further escalation could result in a humanitarian catastrophe.
The European arm of the WHO added it was working closely “with all UN partners in rapidly scaling up readiness to respond to the expected health emergency triggered by the conflict”.