October 7, 2022

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Ukraine tightens grip on liberated lands, calls separatists for urgent referendum

Ukraine tightens grip on liberated lands, calls separatists for urgent referendum

  • Ukraine says its forces have advanced to the east bank of Uskel
  • Governor says troops are entering towns near Lysychansk
  • Separatist leader calls for urgent referendum to join Russia
  • Forensic workers exhume 146 bodies in Isium
  • Ukraine says Russia bombed Pvdnoukrainsk nuclear plant

IZYUM (Reuters) – Ukraine on Monday expanded its hold on recently retaken territory, with troops pushing east into areas left by Russia, paving the way for a possible attack on occupying forces in the Donbass region.

Indicating the tension of the Moscow-backed administration in Donbass over the success of the Ukrainian offensive, its leader called for urgent referendums on whether the region should become part of Russia. Read more

“The occupiers are obviously in a state of panic,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address, adding that he was now focusing on “speed” in the liberated areas.

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“The speed with which our forces are moving. The speed at which normal life is restored,” Zelensky said, also hinting that he would use a video address to the United Nations General Assembly this week to call on the international community for arms and aid for Ukraine. more quickly.

Serhiy Gaidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, a Donbass province now under the control of Russian forces, said that Ukrainian forces retook control of the town of Kremina and the village of Belhorivka near the city of Lyschansk, which fell after weeks of fierce battles. in July.

He wrote on Telegram: “The Luhansk region is completely adjacent. The removal of the occupation is not far away.”

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Ukrainian forces also crossed the Uskil River over the weekend, the Ukrainian Armed Forces wrote on Telegram late Sunday, in another important counter-offensive milestone in the northeastern Kharkiv region. The river flows south into the Siversky Donets, which flows through the Donbas River, the main hub of the Russian conquest.

Beyond that lies Luhansk, a base of Russia’s separatist proxies since 2014 and entirely in Russian hands since July after some of the war’s bloodiest battles.

A Russian-backed separatist official in Donetsk, the other province in Donbass, said 13 people were killed in artillery shelling on Monday in the city of Donetsk.

Reuters was not able to independently verify either side’s reports on the battlefield.

GRIM GRAVES

Ukraine is still assessing what happened in the areas that were under Russian control for months before the defeat of Russian forces dramatically changed the dynamic of the war earlier this month.

Ukrainian forensic experts have so far dug 146 bodies without coffins in a makeshift cemetery in the forests near the recovered town of Izyum, Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Senhopov said on Monday. Zelensky said about 450 graves had been found at the site

Spreading out in groups under the trees, workers used shovels to exhume the partially decomposed bodies, which some locals said were dumped on city streets long after she died before being buried.

The government has not yet released a death toll, though officials say dozens were killed in the bombing of an apartment building, and there are signs of others killed by shrapnel.

Serhiy Polvinov, head of the investigative police of the Kharkiv region, told Reuters at the cemetery that according to preliminary examinations, four of them showed signs of torture, with their hands tied behind their backs, or in one case they were tied with a rope around their necks.

Polvinov said the vast majority of the bodies appeared to be civilians. Locals recognized their dead by matching names to numbers on flimsy wooden crosses marking the graves. Read more

“The soldiers had their hands tied, and there were signs of torture on the civilians,” Polvinov said. Ukraine says 17 soldiers were in a mass grave at the site. Read more

Reuters was unable to confirm Ukraine’s allegations of torture.

On Monday, the Kremlin denied blaming Russia for the atrocities that Ukraine says it discovered in the captured area.

“It is a lie, and of course we will defend the truth in this story,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, referring the allegations to incidents earlier in the war where Russia claimed without evidence that Ukrainians had committed atrocities.

Warning about the nuclear plant

Ukraine accused Russian forces on Monday of bombing near the Pevdnoukrainsk nuclear power plant in the southern Mykolaiv region.

Ukrainian atomic energy company Energoatum said in a statement that an explosion occurred 300 meters from the reactors and damaged the power station buildings shortly after midnight. It added that the reactors were not damaged, and none of the workers was injured, and published pictures showing a huge crater that it said was caused by the explosion.

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“Russia is endangering the whole world. We must stop it before it is too late,” Zelensky said in a social media post.

The strikes will heighten global concern about the possibility of an atomic disaster, which has already been heightened by the fighting around another Ukrainian nuclear power plant in the south, Zaporizhzhya, which was captured by Russian forces in March. Moscow has ignored international calls for withdrawal and disarmament.

In a new setback in Zaporizhia, the International Atomic Energy Agency said a power line used to supply the station was disconnected on Sunday, leaving it without backup power from the grid.

fake targets

Rapid Russian losses over the past few weeks have unsettled a PR campaign in the Kremlin that never deviated from the line that a “special military operation” would be “planned”.

Alla Pugacheva, 73, the most famous Russian pop singer since the Soviet era, has become the largest mainstream cultural figure to oppose the war, with an Instagram post condemning “the death of our men for imaginary goals that turn our country into a pariah and worsen the lives of our citizens.”

In London, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal and First Lady Olena Zelenska attended the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. Russia was banned from the concert.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by David Bronstrom, Stephen Coates, and Peter Graf; Editing: Shri Navaratnam, Lincoln Fest, Mark Heinrich and Cynthia Ostermann

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.