- Russia steps up strikes on Ukrainian civilian targets
- Ukraine says graves found near Izyum, relatives are looking for the dead
- Biden urges Putin not to use tactical nuclear and chemical weapons
- Restoration of the main power line at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant – IAEA
IZUM, Ukraine (Reuters) – Britain said on Sunday that Russia had expanded its strikes on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure in the past week after setbacks on the battlefield and was likely to expand its targets further.
Ukrainians who had returned to the northeastern region recaptured by Kyiv in a lightning advance earlier this month were searching for their dead as Russian artillery and air strikes continued to bombard targets across eastern Ukraine.
On Sunday, regional governors said that five civilians were killed in Russian attacks in the eastern Donetsk region over the past day, and in Nikopol, to the west, dozens of apartment buildings, gas pipelines and power lines were injured.
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Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure, including a power grid and a dam, have intensified over the past seven days.
“While facing setbacks on the front lines, it is possible that Russia has expanded the positions it is preparing to strike in an effort to directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government,” she said in an intelligence update.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address that authorities had found a mass grave containing the bodies of 17 soldiers in Izyum, some of which he said bore signs of torture.
Izium residents search for their dead relatives in a forest cemetery where emergency workers began exhuming the bodies last week. The causes of death of those at the grave site have not yet been established, although residents say some of them died in an air strike.
Ukrainian officials said last week they had found 440 bodies in the forests near Izyum. They said that most of the dead were civilians, and the cause of death had not been established.
The Kremlin has not commented on the discovery of the graves, but in the past Moscow has repeatedly denied deliberately attacking civilians or committing atrocities.
On his way among the graves and trees at the forest site where exhumations were underway, Volodymyr Kolesnik was trying to match the numbers written on wooden crosses with the names in a carefully handwritten list to locate relatives he said had died in an air raid in the early days of that date. the war. Kolesnik said he obtained the list from a local funeral company that dug the graves.
“They buried the bodies in bags without coffins and without anything,” he told Reuters on Saturday. “I was not allowed in at first. They (the Russians) said it was mined and asked to wait.”
“One of the bodies (found) has evidence of a ligature pattern, a rope around the neck and handcuffs,” Oleksandr Elenkov, head of the Kharkiv region prosecutor’s office, told Reuters at the site on Friday, adding that there were signs of violent death causes for other bodies but that they will undergo For a forensic examination.
On Sunday, the mayor of Izeum said that work on the site will continue for another two weeks.
“Exhumations are underway, graves are being dug and all the remains have been transferred to Kharkiv,” Valery Marchenko told state television.
In the village of Kozacha Luban, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kharkiv and only about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Russian border, a Reuters reporter was taken to a wretched basement with rooms fitted with iron bars, which were used by local officials. He said it served as a temporary prison during the occupation. The mayor of the local area, Vyacheslav Zadorenko, said the rooms were used as a “torture basement” to detain civilians. Reuters was unable to verify those accounts.
Elsewhere in the region, residents of the towns that had recaptured after six months of Russian occupation would return with a mixture of joy and fear. Read more
“I still have this feeling, that at any moment a shell explodes or a plane can fly,” said Natalia Yelistratova, who traveled with her husband and daughter 80 kilometers (50 miles) on a train from Kharkiv to her hometown. In al-Qulayya she finds her apartment intact, but the bombing has scars.
“I’m still afraid to be here,” she said after discovering a shrapnel in the wall.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not respond to the accusations, but on Friday ignored Ukraine’s swift counterattack and that Moscow would respond more forcefully if its forces came under more pressure. Read more
These repeated threats have raised fears that it could, at some point, turn into small nuclear weapons or chemical warfare.
Asked US President Joe Biden what he would tell Putin if he considered using such weapons, he replied, “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. It will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.” CBS released a clip of the comment in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Saturday. Read more
Some military analysts said the Russians might also orchestrate a nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhya, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant controlled by Russia but operated by Ukrainian staff.
Moscow and Kiev accused each other of bombing around the plant, destroying buildings and disrupting power lines needed to keep it cool and safe. The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency said today, Saturday, that the plant has been reconnected to the Ukrainian electricity grid after repairing one of its electric lines. However, it cautioned that the situation at the plant “remains precarious”. Read more
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(Reporting by Reuters offices) Writing by Lincoln Fest, Raisa Kasulowski and Tomasz Janowski Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry
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