Disappointment mounts as Ukraine casualties rises and Russia takes more territory

Kyiv, Ukraine – Russia’s invasion in February prompted a wave of public support for the government. President Volodymyr Zelensky When millions of Ukrainians rushed to help defend their homeland. Four months later – the middle Russian advance And increasing casualties – anger and frustration over the handling of the war.

In interviews with Ukrainians, whose family members are fighting the invaders, many said they were upset with the military leadership because they had deployed inexperienced people to the front lines, and sometimes sent them to war without medical or psychological examination. sent in.

“I am ready to protest,” said Victoria Bilan-Rashchuk, 43, of Kyiv, whose husband, Volodymyr, a theater actor with no previous military experience, is fighting on the Eastern Front. svierodonetsk, Last month, she said, she raised money to send her unit protective headphones — standard military equipment used to prevent hearing loss — for soldiers firing rocket systems.

“No one even taught him to shoot.”

Olena Zhabyk-Sheremet said

“The government is not doing enough to support them. The longer this goes on, the more people will be upset, ”said Bilan-Rashchuk, speaking through a translator in Ukrainian.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Since Russia invaded in February, thousands of Ukrainians with no military background have volunteered to fight. To boost its war effort, the Ukrainian government has banned men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country if it needs to initiate a draft. In May, Zelensky said the country’s military had 700,000 service members, including women.

Through a relentless campaign of appearances, interviews and statements, zelensky He has fought to keep the morale high among the soldiers and the general public and to put the country’s cause before the international community. But Russian artillery attacks in the east have intensified in recent months, bringing the Ukrainian military death toll midway 100 and 200 soldiers In an interview with the BBC earlier this month, one of Zelensky’s aides, Mykhailo Podolik, said that in one-day fighting, at least 500 others are injured every day.

A soldier rests at an outpost in Svyarodonetsk, eastern Ukraine where fighting has been particularly fierce.Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP via Getty Images

in that daily address On June 14, Zelensky called the loss “painful”, but said the Ukrainians “have to catch up.”

Despite the high death toll, Ukrainian officials have said the soldiers are well looked after, with adequate training, food, equipment and rest.

But as the war progresses, some Ukrainians are particularly angry at the lack of basic military equipment on the front lines. Some military families have been forced to organize donation drives to send medical supplies and military equipment to the front lines.

Svitlana Lukianenko, whose husband worked in information technology before the war but is now also fighting near Svyarodonetsk, is concerned that the Ukrainian military is not rapidly replacing dead and wounded soldiers, leaving her husband with every passing. With the day comes more risk.

“The government needs to mobilize more people, but it also needs to train them. There’s not enough training and that’s a big problem,” she said. “That’s why we have so many deaths.”

“We are angry for them,” said Lukianenko.

Zelensky also dismissed reports that some frontline soldiers had poor protective equipment.

“The reports I get are quite different from what society discusses,” He said at the same address. “Today, everyone in the areas of hostilities should have everything they need to protect themselves,” he said. “The state provides such supplies.”

Luiza Dorner, 25, of Kyiv, whose husband is fighting in the Donbass region, said statements from Zelensky and other government officials were beginning to be hollow. When she talks to her husband on the phone, she said, she can hear fear and exhaustion in his voice.