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Russia widens strikes on Ukraine

Russia is ramping up war efforts after a push-back by Ukraine has resulted in a series of setbacks.

September 19, 2022
By Pavel Polityuk
19 September 2022

Russia has widened its strikes on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure in the past week following setbacks on the battlefield and is likely to expand its target range further, Britain says.

Ukrainians who returned to the northeastern area retaken in Kyiv’s lightning advance earlier this month were searching for their dead while Russian artillery and air strikes kept pounding targets across Ukraine’s east.

Five civilians were killed in Russian attacks in the eastern Donetsk region over the past day and in Nikopol, further west, several dozen residential buildings, gas pipelines and power lines were hit, regional governors said on Sunday.

Servicemen carry the coffin of Olga Simonova, 34, a Russian woman who was killed in the Donetsk region while fighting on Ukraine’s side. (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna)

Britain’s defence ministry said Russian strikes at civilian infrastructure, including a power grid and a dam, have intensified over the past seven days.

“As it faces setbacks on the front lines, Russia has likely extended the locations it is prepared to strike in an attempt to directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government,” it said in a intelligence update.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address that authorities had found a mass grave containing the bodies of 17 soldiers in Izium, some of which bore signs of torture.

Residents of Izium have been searching for dead relatives at a forest grave site where emergency workers began exhuming bodies last week. The causes of death for those at the grave site have not yet been established, although residents say some died in an air strike.

Russia Ukraine War A mass grave containing 440 bodies has been found in a Ukraine city recaptured from Russian forces.AP PHOTO
A mass grave containing 440 bodies has been found in a Ukraine city recaptured from Russian forces.

Ukrainian officials said last week they had found 440 bodies in the woodlands near Izium. They said most of the dead were civilians and the causes of death had not been established.

The Kremlin has not commented on the discovery of the graves, but in the past Moscow has repeatedly denied deliberately attacking civilians or committing atrocities.

Oleksandr Ilienkov, the chief of the prosecutor’s office for the Kharkiv region, told Reuters at the site on Friday: “One of the bodies (found) has evidence of a ligature pattern and a rope around the neck, tied hands,” adding that there were signs of violent death causes for other bodies but they would undergo forensic examination.

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

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not responded to the accusations, but on Friday, he brushed off Ukraine’s swift counteroffensive and that Moscow would respond more forcefully if its troops were put under further pressure.

Such repeated threats have raised concerns he could at some point turn to small nuclear weapons or chemical warfare.

US President Joe Biden, asked what he would say to Putin if he was considering using such weapons, replied: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. It would change the face of war unlike anything since World War Two.” A clip of comment in an interview with 60 Minutes was released by CBS on Saturday.

The top US general cautioned on Sunday it was still unclear how Russia might react to the latest battlefield setbacks in Ukraine and called for vigilance among US troops as he visited a base in Poland aiding Ukraine’s war effort.

“The war is not going too well for Russia right now. So it’s incumbent upon all of us to maintain high states of readiness, alert,” US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Warsaw following a visit to a base hosting US troops.

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