Colonel Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and their daughters Olena and Myroslava-Oleksandra. In the first 100 days of the war, his grave was the 40th the diggers dug at the military cemetery in Zhytomyr, 140 kilometers west of the capital Kiev.
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He was killed on May 30 in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, where the fighting is raging. Nearby, the funeral notice on the also newly dug grave of Viacheslav Dvornitskyi says he died on May 27. Other graves also showed soldiers killed within days of each other – on May 10, 9, 7 and 5. And this is just one cemetery, in just one of the cities and towns of Ukraine where soldiers lay to rest.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week said Ukraine is now losing 60 to 100 soldiers a day in combat. By comparison, in 1968, an average of just under 50 U.S. soldiers died a day during the deadliest year of the Vietnam War for U.S. troops.
Among the comrades in arms who paid tribute to Makhachek at his funeral on Friday was General Viktor Muzhenko, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces until 2019. He warned that losses could worsen.
“This is one of the critical moments in the war, but it’s not the pinnacle,” he told The Associated Press. “This is the most important conflict in Europe since World War II. That explains why the losses are so great. To reduce the losses, Ukraine now needs powerful weapons that match or even exceed the Russian weapons. This would allow Ukraine to to respond naturally.”
Concentrations of Russian artillery are causing many of the casualties in the eastern regions that Moscow has targeted since the first invasion launched on February 24 that failed to take Kiev.
Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former commander of US military forces in Europe, described the Russian strategy as a “medieval attrition approach” and said that until Ukraine promised to get supplies of US, British and other weapons to destroy and destroy Russia. to disturb. batteries, “this kind of casualty will continue.”
“This battlefield is so much more deadly than what we’ve all grown accustomed to in the 20 years of Iraq and Afghanistan, where we didn’t have numbers like that,” he said in a telephone interview with AP.
“That level of attrition would include chiefs, sergeants,” he added. “They’re a lot of the victims because they’re more exposed and constantly walking around trying to do things.”
Makhachek, who was 49, was killed in a village in the eastern region of Luhansk. He was a military engineer and led a detachment that built minefields and other defenses, said Colonel Ruslan Shutov, a friend of more than 30 years who attended his funeral.
“When the shelling started, he and a group hid in a shelter. There were four people in his group and he told them to hide in the dugout. He hid in another. Unfortunately, an artillery shell hit the dugout where he was hiding.”
The aftermath of 100 days of war between Ukraine and Russia
A view of destroyed military vehicles on streets, as the Russian invasion continues, in the city of Bucha, Kiev. (Photo credit: Reuters)
Ukraine had about 250,000 men and women in uniform before the war and was in the process of adding another 100,000. The government has not said how many people died in the first 100 days of fighting. No one really knows how many fighters or civilians have died on either side, and claims of casualties by government officials — who sometimes exaggerate or downplay their figures for public relations reasons — are virtually impossible to verify.
But as Ukraine’s losses mount, the grim math of war requires it to find replacements. With a population of 43 million, it has manpower.
“The problem is recruiting, training, and getting them on the front lines,” said retired US Marine Col. Mark Cancian, senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“Now when the war turns into a prolonged war of attrition, you have to build systems to get replacements,” he said. “This has been a difficult moment for any army in the battle.”
Muzhenko, the Ukrainian general, said Zelenskyy’s recognition of many victims would further boost Ukrainian morale and that more Western weapons would help turn the tide.
“The more Ukrainians know what is happening at the front, the more the will to resist will increase,” he said. “Yes, the losses are significant. But with the help of our allies, we can minimize and reduce them and move on to successful offensives. This requires powerful weapons.”