Zelensky warns ‘millions will be killed’ without US aid to Kyiv, as Ukrainian troop deaths reach at least 31,000

Feb 26, 2024, 7:30 AM

Soldiers carry the coffin of Ukrainian poet and serviceman Maksym Kryvtsov who was killed in action...

Soldiers carry the coffin of Ukrainian poet and serviceman Maksym Kryvtsov who was killed in action fighting against Russia's attack on Ukraine, during his funeral ceremony at St. Michael's Monastery in Kyiv, January 11.

Originally Published: 25 FEB 24 11:33 ET
Updated: 25 FEB 24 16:26 ET

(CNN) — “Millions” could die in Ukraine’s war with Russia if US lawmakers don’t approve President Joe Biden’s $60 billion aid request for Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on Sunday.

Asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins about a claim made by the US Senator J.D. Vance that the outcome of the war would not change even if Ukraine receives the money, Zelensky said he wasn’t sure Vance “understands what is going on here.”

“To understand it is to come to the front line to see what’s going on, to speak with the people, then to go to civilians to understand … what will (happen to) them without this support. And he will understand that millions … will be killed. It’s a fact,” Zelensky said.

“Of course he doesn’t understand, God bless you don’t have the war on your territory,” he added.

Zelensky’s warning came just hours after the Ukrainian leader made a rare admission of troop losses, saying that about 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed so far in the conflict, during a conference in Kyiv.

Addressing the conference, Zelensky disputed Russian claims of much higher numbers when it comes to Ukrainian casualties. He added that “tens of thousands” of civilians have died in Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.

“It’s a big loss to us. 31,000 Ukrainians, Ukrainian soldiers, died in this war. Not 300,000. Not 150,000, whatever (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is lying with,” Zelensky said. “Every loss is a huge loss to us.”

CNN cannot independently verify the numbers, which come on the weekend Ukraine marked two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Throughout the conflict, Kyiv has been hesitant to admit how many soldiers have been killed. Former Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in June 2022 that he believed tens of thousands of Ukrainians had been killed since February of that year.

Two months later, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, then the head of Ukraine’s armed forces, said 9,000 troops had been killed.

US officials estimate some 70,000 soldiers have been killed and nearly twice that number wounded.

Russia, meanwhile, has lost a staggering 87% of the total number of active-duty ground troops it had prior to the invasion, a source familiar with a declassified US intelligence assessment provided to Congress told CNN in December.

Zelensky’s comments come as his country faces setbacks on the battlefield and is struggling to secure more aid from its Western partners. In the United States, a foreign aid bill remains stalled in the House of Representatives by isolationist Republicans.

The Ukrainian leader said his country is counting on Congress to act.

“They know we need their support,” said Zelensky.

Zelensky also floated the possibility of attending a possible peace summit in Switzerland in the spring, though cautioned Russia may not be involved. He said that Putin “does not want to end this war.”

Reporting contributed by Andy Carey, and Madalena Araujo in Kyiv. This story has been updated with new information.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Russia + Ukraine

tank fires at troops in ukraine, sen mike lee is trying to kill a foreign aid bill in the senate...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko,

Utah Sen. Mike Lee rallying Senate to kill foreign aid bill for Ukraine, Israel

Sen. Mike Lee has repeatedly criticized efforts to send further military and economic aid to Ukraine.

23 hours ago

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S, Oksana Markarova, speaking with different Utah leaders while visit...


Ambassador of Ukraine to U.S. meets with Utah state and church leaders

For the first time, Oksana Markarova, Ukrainian Ambassador to the US, paid Utah a visit. It’s a connection that’s been years in the making.

12 days ago

Ukrainian family in Utah...

Amie Schaeffer

Ukrainian, now living in Utah reflects on 2 years of war

A family from Ukraine moved to Utah after the war began. Anton and his wife Valentyna are Ukrainian nationals who met while attending UVU.

1 month ago

Smoke rises above the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a reported shooting and blas...

By Mariya Knight, Anna Chernova and Darya Tarasova

ISIS claims responsibility for attack in busy Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 40 dead

ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack at a popular concert venue complex near Moscow Friday that left at least 40 dead and more than 100 wounded after assailants stormed the venue with guns and incendiary devices.

1 month ago

a wrecked apartment in Ukraine is shown, Putin says Russian forces aim to set up a buffer zone insi...

Associated Press

With the election behind him, Putin says Russian forces aim to set up a buffer zone inside Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at a news conference after the release of election returns that showed him securing a fifth six-year term.

1 month ago

A member of Ukraine's 72nd Brigade Anti-air unit points to the direction of a Russian Zala reconnai...

TARA COPP and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

Pentagon to rush $300 million in weapons to Ukraine

It's the Pentagon's first announced security package for Ukraine since December, when it acknowledged it was out of replenishment funds.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Zelensky warns ‘millions will be killed’ without US aid to Kyiv, as Ukrainian troop deaths reach at least 31,000