Russia’s military said it has destroyed 74 Ukrainian military targets on the first day of its invasion into the pro-Western country Thursday amid conflicting reports over gains and losses inflicted on both sides.
Eleven Ukrainian airfields, three command posts and a naval base have been “put out of operation,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a televised briefing.
He said Russia destroyed 18 Ukrainian radar stations of the S-300 and Buk-M1 missile systems in addition to shooting down four Bayraktar TB-2 combat drones and one combat helicopter.
Footage across Ukrainian cities showed widespread missile strikes and artillery shelling from the eastern Ukrainian separatist enclaves to its western regions near European borders. Ukraine has reported dozens of casualties.
Moscow’s Defense Ministry said that 14 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered and will be released after they sign a renunciation of armed resistance.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to Konashenkov, ordered the Russian military to treat the captured troops “with respect” and create a safety corridor for their evacuation.
In the only admission of losses, Konashenkov said a Russian Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft crashed due to pilot error and the pilot catapulted to safety.
There was no immediate confirmation of Konashenkov’s figures.
Moscow and Kyiv have been racing to establish control over information in the fog of war.
Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s armed forces denied Russia’s claims of fleeing Ukrainian border guards and seized cities.
Ukraine’s military also said it used Javelin anti-tank missiles to “neutralize” 15 Russian T-72 tanks. It said earlier that it shot down at least seven warplane and two helicopters, destroyed five armored personnel carriers, killed around 50 and captured at least two Russian soldiers.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has dismissed Ukraine’s claims of downed warplanes and armored vehicles as a “lie.”
And Russia’s federal media regulator has threatened to block outlets that publish information from outside official Russian channels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine before dawn Thursday, forcing residents to flee for their lives and leaving at least 40 Ukrainian soldiers and 10 civilians dead.
According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Russia's armed forces amount to 900,000 troops, plus some 2 million reserves and more than half a million other forces.
Ukraine's forces meanwhile amount to barely more than the number of troops Russia had amassed around its borders, with a standing army of 14,000, 45,000 in the air force and 11,000 in the navy, according to the IISS. It has some 100,000 other forces and 900,000 reserve soldiers.
AFP contributed reporting.