Ukrainians find dead civilians in towns wrested from Russian forces

  • Civilians dead lining the streets of the recaptured city near Kyiv
  • Ukraine accuses Russian forces of laying mines
  • ICRC convoy on its way to the besieged port of Mariupol
  • Ukrainian negotiator hints at talks between Zelensky and Putin
  • Russia’s chief negotiator says draft agreement is not ready for high-level talks

BUSHA, Ukraine (Reuters) – As Ukraine says its forces have retaken all areas around Kiev, the mayor of a liberated town says 300 residents were killed during the month-long Russian army occupation, with victims seen in a mass grave still lying in the streets. .

Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces have recaptured more than 30 towns and villages around Kyiv, declaring full control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.

In Bucha, a town adjacent to Irbin, just 37 kilometers northwest of the capital, Reuters journalists saw corpses lying in the streets and the hands and feet of several corpses sprouting from a still-open grave in the grounds of a church. Read more

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After more than five weeks of fighting, Russia withdrew forces that had threatened Kyiv from the north to regroup for battles in eastern Ukraine.

“The whole Kyiv region has been liberated from invaders,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

There was no Russian comment on the claim, which Reuters could not immediately verify.

President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in a video speech: “They are digging in all these lands. Houses are mined, equipment is mined, even the bodies of the dead.” He did not cite the evidence. Read more

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The emergency service of Ukraine said that more than 1,500 explosives were found in one day during a search operation in the village of Dmitrievka, west of the capital.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations about the mines. Reuters could not independently verify it. Moscow denies targeting civilians and rejects allegations of war crimes.

In Bucha, Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said more than 300 residents were killed. Many residents remember the tears of the brush with death.

“Bastards!” Vasily, a 66-year-old man, said he wept angrily as he looked at more than a dozen bodies lying on the road outside his house. “I’m sorry. The tank behind me was shooting. Dogs!”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was appalled by the atrocities in Bucha and expressed support for the International Criminal Court’s investigation into possible war crimes.

Putin-Zelensky talks?

Since launching what President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation” to disarm and “disarm” Ukraine, Russia has failed to capture a single major city and has instead imposed an urban blockade, uprooting a quarter of the country’s population.

Russia has described the withdrawal of its forces near Kyiv as a goodwill gesture in the peace talks. Ukraine and its allies say Russia was forced to shift its focus to eastern Ukraine after it incurred heavy losses.

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The two sides described the talks last week in Istanbul and via video link as “difficult.” “The main thing is for talks to continue, whether in Istanbul or elsewhere,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday.

Ukraine’s negotiator David Arachhamiya said on Saturday that enough progress has been made for direct talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelensky.

But Russia’s chief negotiator said the draft agreement was not ready to be sent to a high-level meeting, though he said Ukraine was showing more realism by agreeing to be neutral, giving up nuclear weapons, not joining a military bloc and refusing to host military bases.

But in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and two Russian-backed rebel regions whose independence Putin recognized in February, Vladimir Medinsky noted the lack of progress.

“I repeat over and over again: Russia’s position on Crimea and the Donbass has not changed,” he said via Telegram.

He said the video talks will continue on Monday. Read more

Mariupol is waiting

Among the dead near Kyiv was Maxim Levin, a Ukrainian photographer and videographer who worked for a news site and was a long-time contributor to Reuters. Read more

In the east, the Red Cross had hoped a convoy to evacuate civilians would reach the besieged port of Mariupol on Sunday, having abandoned its previous attempts for security reasons. Russia blamed the ICRC for the delay. Read more

Mariupol is Russia’s main target in the Donbass region of southeastern Ukraine, and tens of thousands of civilians there are trapped with difficult access to food and water. Read more

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British military intelligence said that the Russian navy had imposed a blockade on the Ukrainian coast along the Black and Azov seas, but that the option of an amphibious landing had become increasingly risky for Russia.

It said the reported mines, the provenance of which remains unclear and disputed, pose a serious risk to shipping in the Black Sea.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, rockets landed on the southern port city of Odessa, the city council said.

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Additional reporting by Natalia Zenets in Mukachevo, Ukraine, and Alessandra Prentice and Guy Faulconbridge in London and the Reuters office. Editing by Stephen Coates, William Mallard and Frances Kerry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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