Zelenskyy accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine’s Kherson | Russia-Ukraine war News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russian soldiers of committing war crimes and killing civilians in Kherson, which was taken over by Ukraine last week.

“Investigators have already documented over 400 Russian war crimes. Bodies of dead civilians and servicemen have been found,” Zelenskyy said in his late-night video address on Sunday, without specifying where the bodies were found.

“The Russian army left behind the same savagery as in other parts of the country it entered,” he said.

It was not immediately possible to verify Zelenskyy’s claims. Russia denies that its troops intentionally target civilians.

Mass graves have been discovered in several locations across Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, including the bodies of civilians showing evidence of torture discovered in the northeastern region of Kharkiv and in Bucha, near the capital Kyiv. Ukraine has accused Russian troops of committing these crimes.

A United Nations commission said in October that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine and that Russian forces were responsible for the “vast majority” of human rights abuses in the first weeks of the war.

Ukrainians in Kherson expressed a deep sense of relief following the withdrawal of Russian forces on Friday after months of occupation.

The region was one of four that Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed he annexed in September, a move that Kyiv called illegal and denounced by Western countries.

A boy waves a Ukrainian flag at a former Russian checkpoint on the outskirts of Kherson
The Russians withdrew on Friday, with locals expressing relief that the soldiers were gone [AFP]

Some residents accused the Russians of laying mines and looting – even stealing animals from a zoo – before retreating.

“God will punish them. All. For everything they have done,” said Svitlana Vilna, 47.

No water, electricity

Ukrainian troops arrived in the southern city of Kherson after Russia abandoned the regional capital, which fell shortly after the February 24 invasion.

The withdrawal marked the third major Russian retreat of the war, and followed a major Ukrainian counteroffensive which had recaptured parts of the east and south.

Most homes in the Ukrainian city are still without electricity or water, according to regional officials, and artillery exchanges continued to echo through the city.

“We are happy now, but we are all afraid of the shelling from the left bank,” said Yana Smyrnova, a 35-year-old singer who stood in the city’s main square, referring to Russian guns on the eastern side of the city. Dnieper River.

Many residents – some wrapped in Ukrainian flags – lined up to get food and use Starlink satellite internet to connect with loved ones.

“I need to get in touch with my family,” Klavdia Mych, a retired teacher, told AFP news agency.

“We have been without water for a week,” the 69-year-old added. “And they say everything is mined. It’s very scary.

Kherson Region Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said authorities decided to maintain a curfew from 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) until 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) and ban people from going out or to enter the city as a security measure. .

“The enemy has mined all critical infrastructure,” Yanushevych told Ukrainian television. “We try to meet in a few days and [then] open up the city,” he said.

Zelenskyy also warned residents of Kherson about the presence of Russian mines. “I ask you please to remember that the situation in the Kherson region remains very dangerous,” he said.

People in winter clothes gathered around a satellite link to get mobile phone coverage and talk to their families.
Residents have come together to use the Starlink satellite system for their smartphones. Ukrainian authorities are working to restore water and electricity to the city, with the first trains due to run this week [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Minimize contacts

Officials reported early progress in restoring normality to the city, whose pre-war population was around 290,000.

Presidential adviser Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Telegram that a mobile connection was already working in the city center, while the head of Ukraine’s railways said train services to Kherson were expected to resume this week.

Residents said the Russians had left gradually over the past two weeks, but their final departure only became clear when the first Ukrainian troops entered the city of Kherson on Thursday.

“It was a progressive thing,” said Alexii Sandakov, 44, a videographer. “Their special police left first. Then the ordinary police and its administration. Then you started seeing less soldiers in supermarkets and then their military vehicles moving away.

Many residents interviewed by the Reuters news agency said they had tried to minimize their contact with Russians and knew of people arrested and mistreated for showing any expression of Ukrainian patriotism.

Sandakov said Russian troops looted the homes of Ukrainian soldiers who left the city before the takeover and would inspect the bodies of young men passing through checkpoints for tattoos of Ukrainian nationalist groups.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it had taken over 179 settlements and 4,500 square kilometers (1,700 square miles) along the Dnieper River since the start of the week.

Recapturing the city opens a gateway for Ukraine to the entire Kherson region, with access to both the Black Sea to the west and the Sea of ​​Azov to the east.

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