Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow’s advance in Ukraine is going “according to plan” and ordered large compensations for Russian soldiers killed in the invasion.
“I want to say that the special military operation is going strictly according to schedule, according to plan,” he said, opening a meeting with his security council.
“We are at war with neo-Nazis,” the Russian leader said, adding: “I will never give up on my conviction that Russians and Ukrainians are one people.”
He said Russia’s army is fighting “courageously, like real heroes”.
He also ordered compensation to be paid to the families of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine.
“Our duty is to support the families of those who fought for the people of Russia,” Putin said.
A day earlier Russia for the first time put a number to its losses in Ukraine, saying 498 of its troops were killed since Putin ordered the invasion last week.
Ukraine says that number is far higher.
Russia has said that it does not target civilian areas in Ukraine, despite widespread evidence otherwise.
Putin accused Ukrainian forces of using civilians as “human shields”, saying they were acting like “fascists”.
Ukraine said earlier on Thursday that 22 people died when Russian forces hit residential areas, including school schools and a high-rise apartment block in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.
Kyiv has said that at least 350 civilians have been killed since Russia invaded last week.