© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a speech, amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, April 1, 2022 in this still image excerpted from video. Press Service of the President of Ukraine / via Reuters TV / Handout via
(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russian soldiers of intentionally exploiting areas in northern Ukraine as they retreat or are pushed out by Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine says its troops have regained control of more than 30 towns and villages in the Kyiv region since Russia announced this week it would scale back operations around the capital and in the vicinity of the capital. north of Chernihiv to focus on the battles in the east.
“In the north of our country the invaders are leaving. It’s slow but noticeable. In some places, they are being driven out by fighting. In other places, they are abandoning their positions. location,” Zelenskiy said in a video address released on Saturday, without citing evidence.
“They are mining this whole territory. Houses are mined, equipment is mined, even the bodies of people who have died.”
Chernihiv Governor Viacheslav Chaus on Saturday also accused Russian troops of laying mines as they retreated from positions around the regional capital.
“There are a lot of mines. They (the villages) are scattered with them,” he said on national television.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
Reuters could not independently verify the allegations.
On Saturday, the emergency agency asked people in newly liberated parts of Kyiv to be vigilant, saying more than 1,500 explosives had been found in a single day during the search for the village of Dmytrivka, west of the capital.
Zelenskiy said efforts were still underway to clear mines and secure the areas, but advised residents who had fled to stay away for now.
“It’s still not possible to return to a normal life as it was,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the action he took on February 24 a “special military operation aimed at the demilitarization and denuclearization” of Ukraine.
Ukraine and its allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of aggression. Since the invasion, more than 10 million people have been displaced from their homes.
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