Zelensky accuses Russian troops of committing war crimes in Kherson

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday accused Russian soldiers of committing war crimes and killing civilians in Kherson, in a part of the country that was retaken by the local army last week after Russia’s withdrawal.

“Investigators have documented more than 400 Russian war crimes. Bodies of dead civilians and soldiers were found,” Zelensky said.

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“The Russian army left behind the same savagery that it left in other regions of the country it entered,” he continued.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify his claims. Russia denies that its troops intentionally target civilians.

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Mass graves have been found in various places in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, including bodies of civilians showing evidence of torture discovered in the Kharkiv region and in Bucha, near Kiev. Ukraine accused Russian troops of committing the crimes.

In October, a United Nations (UN) commission said war crimes had been committed in Ukraine and that Russian forces were responsible for the “great majority” of human rights violations in the first weeks of the war.

Ukrainian troops arrived in the center of the southern Kherson region on Friday after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it had captured since Moscow launched its invasion in February.

The withdrawal marked the third major Russian retreat of the war and the first to involve the surrender of such a large occupied city in the face of a massive Ukrainian counteroffensive that retook parts of the east and south.

Utility companies in the Kherson region are working to restore critical infrastructure damaged and mined by fleeing Russian forces, with most homes in the southern Ukrainian city still without electricity and water, regional officials have revealed.

On Sunday, the exchanges of artillery echoing across the city failed to discourage crowds of flag-waving residents bundled up against the cold from gathering in Kherson’s main square. The crowds tried to pick up cell phone signals from Starlink ground stations carried in Ukrainian military vehicles.

“We are happy now, but we are all afraid of the bombings from the left bank,” said Yana Smyrnova, 35, a singer, referring to Russian weapons on the east side of the Dnipro River, which flows near the city.

Smyrnova also reported that she and her friends needed to get water from the river to bathe and flush, and only a few villagers were lucky enough to have generators that run pumps to get water from the wells.

The governor of the Kherson region, Yaroslav Yanushevych, reported that the authorities had decided to maintain the curfew from 5 pm to 8 am and to ban people from leaving or entering the city as a security measure.

“The enemy has undermined all critical infrastructure,” Yanushevych announced on Ukrainian TV. “We are trying to meet in a few days and (then) open up the city,” he continued.

Zelensky also warned residents of Kherson about the presence of Russian mines. “I ask you not to forget that the situation in the Kherson region remains very dangerous.”

Local officials said most of the city had no electricity or water. Yuriy Sobolevskiy, first vice president of Kherson’s regional council, told Ukrainian TV that even as authorities work to restore critical services, the humanitarian situation remains “very difficult”.

Source: CNN Brasil

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