Russia attacks civilian targets in Ukraine following battlefield losses, U.K. says

Russia has expanded its attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure over the past week after defeats on the battlefield and is likely to expand the target’s range even further, Britain said Sunday, as an Russian musical icon offers a new critique of the war.

Ukrainians returned to the northeastern region recaptured during Kyiv’s blitzkrieg earlier this month in search of their deaths while Russian air strikes and artillery repeatedly hit their targets. throughout eastern Ukraine.

Five civilians have been killed in Russian attacks in the eastern region of Donetsk over the past day and in Nikopol, further to the west, dozens of residential buildings, gas pipelines and power lines have been damaged. attack, regional governors said Sunday.

The British Ministry of Defense said Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, including the power grid and a dam, had increased over the past seven days.

“In the face of defeats on the front lines, Russia may have expanded the sites it prepared to attack in an attempt to directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government,” it said in a statement. an intelligence report.

Russian pop icon blasts Putin

The UK’s latest assessment comes as Alla Pugacheva, the queen of Soviet pop music, on Sunday condemned President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine which she said was the killing of soldiers for his own purposes. vanity, burdening ordinary people and turning Russia into a global nation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian pop singer Alla Pugacheva pose for a photo during an awards ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow in 2014. Pugacheva, very popular since Soviet times, says she wants to be included in the list. Russian foreign agent in solidarity with her husband, who has been designated as one. (Alexei Druzhinin and Sputnik via Associated Press)

Since the February 24 invasion, Russia has cracked down on dissent, with fines for artists making anti-war comments. State television considers critics to be traitors to the country.

Pugacheva, 73, a Soviet and then post-Soviet icon who is perhaps Russia’s most famous woman, asked Russia to classify her as a “foreign spy” after her husband, TV comedian Maxim Galkin, 46, on September 16. put on the state list.

“I ask you to include me in the ranks of the foreign spy of my dear country because I have solidarity with my husband,” Pugacheva said on Instagram banned in Russia.

Pugacheva said her husband is a patriot who wants a prosperous country with peace, freedom and “put an end to the deaths of our boys for vain goals.”

Such poignant criticism from one of Russia’s most famous – known for generations for hits like the 1982 song Million red roses and the 1978 movie The woman said – very rare and potentially dangerous in modern Russia.

It also shows the level of concern among Russian elites about the war.

Mass grave in Izium

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address that authorities had found a mass grave containing the bodies of 17 soldiers in Izium, some of whom said there were signs of being destroyed. torture.

Residents of Izium searched for dead loved ones at a forest graveyard where emergency workers began exhuming bodies last week. The cause of death for those at the grave site has not been determined, although residents say some people died in an air strike.

VIEW | Ukraine unearths hundreds of bodies at mass burial site in recently reclaimed city:

Ukraine unearths hundreds of bodies at mass burial site in newly reclaimed city

WARNING: This story contains sad details. Ukraine has exhumed more than 400 bodies at a mass burial site in the reclaimed city of Izyum. The bodies were of soldiers, civilians and children, with some showing signs of torture.

Ukrainian officials last week said they had found 440 bodies in the woods near Izium. They said most of those killed were civilians and the cause of death has yet to be determined.

The Kremlin has not commented on the discovery of the graves, but in the past, Moscow has repeatedly denied that it deliberately attacked civilians or committed atrocities.

On his way between the graves and the trees in the forest where the excavation was taking place, Volodymyr Kolesnyk was trying to match the numbers written on the wooden cross with the names on a neatly handwritten list. to locate relatives he said died in an air raid in the early days of the war. Kolesnyk said he received the list from a local funeral company that specializes in digging up graves.

“They buried the body in a bag, no coffin, nothing. I wasn’t allowed in at first. [Russians] said it was mined and asked to wait,” he told Reuters on Saturday.

Oleksandr Ilienkov, chief of the Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office, told Reuters at the site on Friday: “One of the bodies (found) had evidence of a ligature pattern and a rope around the neck, handcuffed”. are indicative of violent causes of death on other bodies but they will be subject to a forensic examination.

A Ukrainian soldier identifies the body of a Ukrainian soldier in a recaptured area near the border with Russia in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region on Saturday. (Leo Correa / The Associated Press)

The mayor of Izium said on Sunday that work at the site would continue for another two weeks.

“The excavation is underway, the graves are being dug up and all the remains are being transported to Kharkiv,” Valery Marchenko told state television.

‘Torture Tunnel’

In the village of Kozacha Lopan, about 45 kilometers north of Kharkiv and just five kilometers from the Russian border, a Reuters reporter was ushered into a dingy cellar with bars-equipped rooms where local officials Phuong said there was a temporary prison during his career. Local district mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko said the rooms had been used as a “torture cellar” to hold civilians. Reuters was unable to verify those accounts.

Elsewhere in the region, residents of towns recaptured after six months of Russian occupation are returning with mixed joy and anxiety.

VIEW | Mass graves in the Ukrainian city of Izium are believed to contain at least 440 bodies:

Mass graves in the Ukrainian city of Izium are believed to contain at least 440 bodies

David Scheffer, a former diplomat who served as the first US Ambassador for War Crime Affairs, discusses mass graves found in Ukraine and what the discovery could mean for the investigation. ongoing investigation into potential war crimes.

Nataliia Yelistratova, who traveled 80 km with her husband and daughter on a train from Kharkiv to her hometown of Balakliia in search of her child at any moment that could explode or a plane might fly over. The apartment complex was intact, but scarred from shelling.

“I’m still scared to be here,” she said after spotting a shrapnel in the wall.

Putin did not respond to the allegations, but on Friday he denied Ukraine’s swift counterattack and that Moscow would respond more strongly if its troops were under further pressure.

Such repeated threats have raised concerns he may one day switch to the use of small nuclear weapons or chemical warfare.

A Ukrainian soldier steps out of a basement that, according to Ukrainian authorities, was used as a torture chamber during the Russian occupation, in the village of Kozacha Lopan, Ukraine on Saturday. (Leo Correa / The Associated Press)

US President Joe Biden, asked what he would tell Putin if he was considering using such weapons, replied: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.” Clip commented in the interview with CBS program 60 minutes was released by CBS on Saturday.

Some military analysts say Russia could also stage a nuclear incident at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which is held by Russia but operated by Ukrainian employees.

Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling around the plant damaging buildings and disrupting power lines needed to keep it cool and safe. The United Nations nuclear watchdog said the plant was reconnected to the Ukrainian power grid after one of its power lines was repaired. It warned, however, that the situation at the plant “remains precarious.”

During a visit to the UK on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa remained “steadfast in Ukraine’s support” and would continue to provide aid to the country.

Trudeau, in London for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, is scheduled to meet Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Sunday night.

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