(CN) --- The brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine was spiraling into a bloodbath on Saturday as Russian troops met with an increasingly more organized and determined resistance from Ukrainian soldiers, volunteer militias and civilians, opening the possibility of a devastating defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia was attacking from the Black Sea, fighting to seize the capital Kyiv, seizing towns and cities in eastern Ukraine and making gains across the country but there is mounting evidence Russian forces are suffering mass casualties and the loss of scores of tanks, armored vehicles and aircraft.
So far, the Russian military has not provided information about its losses, but based on Western intelligence reports and videos from Ukrainian officials, social media and news outlets it is clear that Putin's decision to invade is becoming a ghastly, horrific and costly war for his military.
The Ukraine Ministry of Defense claimed on Saturday that more than 3,000 Russian troops had been killed and more than 200 captured. Ukraine said its forces had destroyed more than 100 tanks and struck more than 20 airplanes. Ukraine says about 200 of its fighters have been killed, but the number of deaths is likely higher.
At the same time, Russia was coming under fierce attack from Western powers, which have now placed personal sanctions on Putin, top officials and members of its parliament and imposed huge penalties on Russian banks and companies.
With the invasion turning into Europe's most sickening spasm of violence since the Balkans Wars, the West is being propelled to go much further to stop Putin by kicking Russia out of the dollar-based international banking transaction system, known as SWIFT.
On Saturday, Germany, Italy and Hungary, three European Union nations that were hesitant about such a move, reportedly had agreed to go along with the plan, which is being pushed by the United States.
Such a move — known as a kind of “nuclear option” — could have far-reaching consequences as it would leave the Russian population financially marooned and it would likely cause major disruptions in world trade. In response, Russia and China might take steps to develop alternative banking systems, opening a new front in what experts say is a new Cold War.
In Kyiv, meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared on Saturday that Russia was being defeated.
“We are successfully holding back the enemy's attacks,” Zelenskyy said in a speech to rally his people.
He pleaded for more international help, something that Ukraine is getting ever more of. On Saturday, Germany said it would lift a ban on weapons exports to Ukraine, a major shift in policy for Europe's most powerful nation and one that will anger Russia, a former foe turned friend since the end of World War II.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meanwhile announced $350 million in military aid for Ukraine. The U.S. has provided more than $5 billion in aid since the 2014 “Maidan Revolution,” a U.S.-backed uprising that led to the overthrow of a democratically elected, but corrupt, pro-Russian Ukrainian president. Many experts describe the events as a coup d'etat.
The 2014 uprising triggered the events that led to this war because after an anti-Russian government was installed in Kyiv Putin ordered his troops to seize Crimea, a peninsula in Ukraine where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based, and then he supported an armed rebellion by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas.
The inability to end the war there and Ukraine's pursuit of NATO membership set the stage for Putin's wild decision to invade Ukraine in the early hours of Tuesday.
Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians to keep up the fight and he called on the EU to immediately allow his nation into the bloc.