Russian artillery and air strikes target eastern Ukraine

  • Russia intensifies attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets – Britain
  • Ukraine says graves found near Izium, relatives searching for dead
  • Biden urges Putin not to use strategic nuclear, chemical weapons
  • Main power line restored at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – IAEA

IZIUM, Ukraine, Sep 18 (Reuters) – Russia widened its attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure last week after setbacks on the battlefield and is likely to further expand its target range, Britain said on Sunday. .

Ukrainians who had returned to the northeast in Kyiv’s lightning advance earlier this month were searching for their dead while Russian artillery and air strikes pounded targets east of Ukraine.

Regional governors said on Sunday that Russian attacks in the eastern Donetsk region in the past have killed five civilians and further west in Nikopol, affecting several dozen residential buildings, gas pipelines and power lines.

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Britain’s defense ministry said Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, including power grids and dams, have intensified over the past seven days.

An intelligence update said, “As it faces setbacks on the frontline, Russia has expanded prepared locations to strike in an attempt to directly undermine the morale of the people and government of Ukraine.” “

On Saturday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address that authorities had found a mass grave in Izium containing the bodies of 17 soldiers, some of which he said were traces of torture.

Residents of Izium are searching for dead relatives at a forest cemetery where emergency workers began exhuming bodies last week. The cause of death for those at the grave site is not yet known, although residents say some were killed in the airstrikes.

Ukrainian officials said last week they found 440 bodies in a forest near Izium. Most of the dead were civilians and the cause of death was not known, he said.

The Kremlin has not commented on the discovery of the tombs, but in the past Moscow has repeatedly denied intentionally attacking or torturing civilians.

Making his way between graves and trees at the forest site where excavation was going on, Volodymyr Kolesnik tries to match the numbers written on the wooden cross with the names in a neatly handwritten list to locate those relatives. who he said was killed in an airstrike in the early days. war. Kolesnik said he got the list from a local funeral company that digs graves.

“They buried the bodies in bags, without coffins, without anything. I was not allowed here before. They (Russia) said it was mined and to wait,” he told Reuters on Saturday. Told.”

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

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

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

still scared

Elsewhere in the region, residents of towns recaptured after six months of Russian occupation were returning with a mixture of joy and bewilderment. read more

“I still have the feeling, that at any moment a shell can explode or an airplane can fly away,” said Natalia Yelistratova, who with her husband and daughter flew to her hometown from Kharkiv. Traveled 80 km (50 mi) in a train. Balaklia retained his apartment block, but was wounded by the gunfire.

“I’m still scared to be here,” she said after finding a piece of shrapnel in a wall.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not responded to the allegations, but on Friday, he rejected Ukraine’s swift retaliatory strike and said Moscow would respond more strongly if its troops were put under further pressure. read more

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

Asked by US President Joe Biden what he would say to Putin if he was considering using such weapons, he replied: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. It’s not a deal since World War II.” The opposite of anything will change the face of war.” A clip of the commentary in an interview with the CBS program “60 Minutes” was released by CBS on Saturday. read more

Some military analysts have said that Russia could stage a nuclear incident in Zaporizhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, 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 on Saturday that the plant had been reconnected to Ukraine’s electricity grid after repairing a power line. It warned, however, that the status of the plant “remains uncertain.” read more

Ukraine has also launched a major offensive to recapture territory in the south, where it hopes to trap thousands of Russian troops cut off from supplies on the west bank of the Dniepro River and retake Kherson. Kherson is the only major Ukrainian city that Russia has retained since the start of the war.

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Reporting by Reuters Bureau Writing by Lincoln Feast, Raisa Kasolowski and Tomas Janowski Editing by William Mallard, Frances Carey and Raisa Kasolowski

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principals.

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