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As soon as the funeral of a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling was over, the undertakers began digging the next hole.

Given the speed with which death overthrows the Ukrainian military on the front lines, the newly excavated tomb will certainly not remain empty for long, writes BTA.

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Colonel Alexander Makhachek left behind a widow - Elena and two daughters - Elena and Miroslava-Alexandra.

His grave was the fortieth to be excavated during the first 100 days of the war in the military cemetery in the city of Zhytomyr, 140km west of Kyiv.

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Makhachek was killed on May 30th in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, where fighting is in full swing.

Nearby, on the obituary of another fresh grave in which Vyacheslav Dvornitsky was buried, it is written that he died on May 27.

There are other graves of soldiers who died within a few days - on 10, 9, 7 and 5 May.

And this is just a cemetery in one of the many Ukrainian towns and villages where the slain soldiers are buried.

Last week, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine had begun losing between 60 and 100 troops every day.

By comparison, about 50 U.S. servicemen died on average a day in 1968, the deadliest year for the U.S. since the Vietnam War.

Among the brothers in arms who came to pay tribute to Makhachek's funeral on Friday was General Viktor Muzhenko, who until 2019 served as chief of staff of Ukraine's armed forces.

He warned that the losses could become more severe.

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"This is one of the critical moments in the war, but the peak has not yet been reached," he said.

"This is the most significant conflict in Europe since World War II, which explains why the losses are so great.

To reduce them, Ukraine now needs powerful weapons that are equivalent to or even superior to Russia's.

This will allow Ukraine to give an appropriate answer, "he explained.

The concentration of Russian artillery has led to many of the casualties in eastern Ukraine, which Moscow is focusing on since it failed to take Kyiv at the start of the February 24 invasion.

The former commander of US troops in Europe, General Ben Hodges, described Russia's strategy as a "medieval approach to exhaustion" and said that until Ukraine received the promised supplies of US, British and other weapons to destroy and disrupt Russian batteries, "this type of victims will continue. " 

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"This battlefield is much more deadly than what we are used to seeing in the last 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our casualties have never reached such numbers," he told the AP.

"This level of exhaustion will affect both leaders and sergeants," he added.

"They make up a large proportion of the victims because they are at risk, because they are constantly on the move and trying to do different things," Hodges said.

Forty-nine-year-old Makhachek was killed in a village in the eastern Luhansk region.

A military engineer, he ran a unit that planted mines and other defenses, Colonel Ruslan Shutov, a friend of his for more than 30 years, told his funeral.

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"After the shelling began, he hid with other soldiers.

There were four people in his group, and Mahacek told them to hide in the trench, and he lay down elsewhere.

"Unfortunately, the artillery fire hit him," Colonel Shutov recalled. 

Before the war, there were about 250,000 troops in Ukraine, and the country was in the process of increasing its numbers by another 100,000.

The government did not say how many soldiers were killed in the first 100 days of fighting.

No one knows how many soldiers or civilians have died on either side, and the authorities' claims about the victims - which can sometimes be exaggerated or underestimated for PR reasons - cannot be verified.                   

However, Ukraine's losses are increasing, and the grim math of war demands that someone be found to compensate.

With a population of 43 million, Ukraine has people to fight for.

"The problem is recruiting, training and bringing them to the forefront," said retired U.S. Marine Colonel Mark Kansian, a senior adviser at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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"If the war now turns into a protracted war of attrition, replacement systems will have to be built," the expert said, adding that this was a difficult time for any army on the battlefield.

According to Ukrainian General Muzhenko, Zelensky's recognition of the large number of casualties will further inflame the fighting spirit of Ukrainians, and this, along with an increase in Western arms supplies, will help reverse the situation. 

"The more Ukrainians know what's going on at the front, the more their will to resist will grow," he said.

"Yes, the losses are significant.

But with the help of our allies, we can minimize them and move on to successful offensives.

This will require powerful weapons, "the Ukrainian military concluded. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine