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Ukraine moves further into liberated lands, separatists call for urgent referendum According to Reuters



© Reuters. Damaged cars are seen in the town of Kupiansk, recently liberated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this photo released September 19, 2022 .

By Tom Balmforth

IZIUM, Ukraine (Reuters) -Ukraine said its troops had marched further east into territory recently abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a potential attack on Moscow’s occupying forces in the region. Donbas region as Kyiv seeks more Western weapons.

In a sign of anxiety from a Moscow-backed administration in the Donbas about the success of Ukraine’s recent offensive, its leader has called for urgent referendums on the region becoming a part of Russia.

“The occupiers are clearly panicking,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a televised address late Monday, adding that he was now focusing on “speed” in the regions. liberated.

“The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed at which life is restored to normal,” Zelenskiy said.

The Ukrainian leader also hinted that he would use a video address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday to urge countries to speed up the shipment of weapons and aid.

“We are doing everything to make sure Ukraine’s needs are met at all levels – defense, finance, economy, diplomacy,” Zelenskiy said.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk of Ukraine, a province in the Donbas currently controlled by the Russian military, said that the Ukrainian armed forces have regained full control of the village of Luhansk in Bilohorivka and are preparing to fight to recapture the entire province.

“There will be combat to the centimeter,” Gaidai wrote on Telegram. “The enemy is preparing to defend. So we won’t simply march in.”

In another milestone for the counter-offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region, the Ukrainian armed forces said troops crossed the Oskil River over the weekend. This river flows south into the Siversky Donets, flowing through the Donbas, the main focus of the Russian invasion.

Further down is Luhansk, a base for Russian separatists since 2014 and fully in Russian hands since July after some of the war’s bloodiest battles.

Reuters could not independently verify either side’s battlefield reports.

Denis Pushilin, head of the Moscow-based separatist government in Donetsk, has called on his colleague the separatist leader in Luhansk to combine efforts to prepare a referendum on joining Russia.

“Our actions should be synchronized,” Pushilin said in a video posted to social media on Monday.

GRIM GRAVES

Ukraine is still assessing what went on in areas under Russian control for months before a wave of Russian troops dramatically changed the course of the war earlier this month.

Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synehubov said that at a large makeshift cemetery in the woods near the recaptured town of Izium, Ukrainian forensic experts have so far dug up 146 bodies buried without coffins. . About 450 graves have been found at the site, Zelenskiy said

Divided into groups beneath the trees, workers used shovels to unearth partially decomposed bodies, with some locals saying they lay on the town streets long after they died before they died. buried.

The government has yet to say how most people were killed, although officials say dozens were killed in shelling on an apartment building and there are indications others have been killed in the attack. bullet fragments.

According to preliminary examination results, four people showed signs of torture, having their hands tied behind their backs, or in one case, a rope tied around their necks, said Serhiy Bolvinov, head of police investigating in the Kharkiv region. , told Reuters at the burial site.

Bolvinov said most of the bodies appeared to be civilians. Locals identified their dead by matching names with numbers on the flimsy wooden crosses that marked the graves.

“The soldiers were handcuffed, there were signs of torture on civilians,” Bolvinov said. Ukraine said 17 soldiers were lying in a mass grave at the site.

Reuters could not corroborate Ukraine’s allegations of torture.

The Kremlin on Monday denied reports that Russia was responsible for atrocities that Ukraine says it has discovered in recaptured territory.

“It is a lie and of course we will defend the truth in this story,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, comparing the allegations to previous incidents in the war claimed by Russia. without evidence of atrocities orchestrated by Ukrainians.

WARNING ABOUT NUTS

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

An explosion occurred 300 meters (yards) from the reactors and damaged the power plant’s buildings shortly after midnight on Monday, Ukraine’s atomic energy operator Energoatom said in a statement. declare.

The reactors were undamaged and no personnel were injured.

“Russia endangers the whole world. We must stop it before it’s too late,” Zelenskiy said in a social media post.

The airstrikes will heighten global concern about the possibility of a nuclear disaster, which has been heightened by fighting around another Ukrainian nuclear power plant to the south, Zaporizhzhia, which is occupied by Russian forces. arrested in March. Moscow has ignored international calls to withdraw its troops and demilitarize it.

In a new setback in Zaporizhzhia, the IAEA said a power line used to supply the plant was cut off on Sunday, leaving it without backup power from the grid.



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