Ukraine's Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces said on Monday that nearly 9,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed since the start of the war.
"Not only servicemen and not only those who took up arms take part in this war, but our little children, who are not to blame for anything at all, except for the fact that they were born here and at this particular time," said Valerii Zaluzhny during "Defenders. Roll Call Forum" event.
He said about children: "They do not understand what is happening, but they definitely need protection both near Soledar, Bakhmut, Velyka Novosilka, and here, because their father went to the frontline and, perhaps, is one of those almost 9,000 heroes who died."
Zaluzhnyi, however, did not specify whether the figure refers only to the service members of the armed forces or also to other formations and what period it covers.
Ukraine's President also addressed the participants during the event.
"My address today is, of course, primarily about veterans. But it is not only for veterans. Not only for our warriors and all those who dedicate their lives to serving Ukraine with weapons in their hands. This appeal of mine is for all our people. And it is about the fact that the veterans' cause has truly become national. It is a matter of both the state and our society," he said, as cited by the official website of the presidency.
The forum was also attended by: Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov, parliamentarians and government officials.
Since it erupted on Feb. 24, the Russia-Ukraine war will mark six months this week as a conflict that has shaken the world to its core.
While Kyiv is preparing to mark Independence Day this week, the war continues on a front stretching 1,300 kilometers (nearly 808 miles), nowadays concentrated in the eastern Donetsk region, as well as the southern regions of the country replacing Russia's initial lightning offensive with a slow-burning conflict.