The governor of the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk says the death toll from Russia's fierce artillery fire there could reach several thousands.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai made the remark in an online interview with NHK on Thursday.
He denied Russia's claim that its troops took control of the Ukrainian stronghold of Severodonetsk, saying fierce fighting still continues there.
Referring to June 12, the day Russia commemorates its establishment, Haidai said Russians like to associate a victory with a memorial day, but that so far Ukrainian forces have defended Severodonetsk. He said he believes it's highly unlikely that all of Severodonetsk will fall into Russia's hands in a few days.
The governor added that Ukraine will counterattack when weapons from the West arrive.
Haidai denounced Russian forces for shelling schools and hospitals in the region indiscriminately. He said local officials can only estimate numbers of deaths as Russian assaults are hampering recovery of bodies for burial.