- Ukraine says its troops have seized village near Lysychansk
- Separatist leaders call for referendum to join Russia
- “The occupiers are clearly in a panic,” Zelensky
- Russia relocates some Black Sea submarines – UK
IZUM, Ukraine, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Ukraine said its troops had marched further east, into territory recently abandoned by Russia, in a bid to fight the Donbas region as Kyiv sought more Western weapons. A potential attack by Moscow’s occupying forces paves the way.
“The occupiers are clearly in a panic,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address late Monday, adding that he was now focused on the “speed” of the liberated areas.
“The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed at which normal life is restored,” Zelensky said.
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The Ukrainian leader also hinted that he would deliver a video address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, calling on countries to speed up the delivery of arms and aid.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure that Ukraine’s needs at every level of defense, finance, economy, diplomacy are met,” Zelensky said.
Governor Sergei Ghede said the Ukrainian armed forces had taken full control of the village of Bilokhorivka and were ready to retake all the territory of Luhansk province from the Russian occupiers. The village is just 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of the city of Lysychansk, which fell to Russians in July after weeks of heavy fighting.
“Every centimeter is a fight,” Gaidai wrote on Telegram. “The enemy is preparing their defenses. So we’re not going to simply march.”
Luhansk and the neighboring province of Donetsk make up the industrialized eastern Donbas region, which Moscow said it intends to target as Ukraine’s “special military operation”.
Ukrainian forces have begun advancing toward Luhansk since a lightning-quick counteroffensive drove Russian troops out of northeastern Kharkiv province this month.
The Moscow-backed government in Donbass is nervous about the success of Ukraine’s latest offensive, and its leaders have called for an emergency referendum on making the region part of Russia.
Denis Pushlin, head of the Moscow-based Donetsk separatist government, called on his fellow separatist leaders in Luhansk to work together to prepare for a referendum to join Russia.read more
The Ukrainian General Staff said that fighting over the past 24 hours was limited to the Donetsk region, and that Russian attacks were repelled near the settlements of Mayosk, Vesele, Kurdumivka and Novi Mikhailivka.
In the south, another Ukrainian counteroffensive has been slow, with Ukrainian armed forces saying they sank a barge carrying Russian troops and equipment near Novakakhovka in the Kherson region.
“The attempt to build the crossing failed to withstand the fire of the Ukrainian army and was stopped,” the military said in a statement on Facebook. “The barges … became a complement to the occupier’s submarine force.”
Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield reports from either side.
The British military said on Tuesday that an increase in Ukraine’s long-range strike capabilities could force Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to move some of its submarines from the Crimea port of Sevastopol to Novorossiysk in Russia’s southern Krasnodor Krai.read more
Ukraine is still assessing what has been happening in areas under Russian control for months, and the subsequent rout of Russian troops dramatically changed the dynamics of the war earlier this month.
In the woods near the recaptured town of Izium, Ukrainian forensic experts have so far exhumed 146 bodies without coffins, Kharkiv regional governor Ole Sinihubov said on Monday. About 450 graves were found at the site, Zelenskiy said Read more
Workers scattered in droves under trees, using shovels to excavate partially decomposed bodies, some of which lay on the town’s streets long before they were buried, locals said.
The government has not said how most of the people died, though officials said dozens of people were killed in the shelling of an apartment building and there were signs that others were killed by shrapnel.
Four of them showed signs of being tortured, with their hands tied behind their backs or in one of the A rope is tied around the neck of the case.
The vast majority of the bodies appeared to be civilians, Bolvinov said. Locals have always identified the dead by matching their names to the numbers on the fragile wooden crosses that mark the graves.read more
“The soldiers’ hands were tied and there were signs of torture for civilians,” Bolvinov said. Ukraine said 17 soldiers were in a mass grave at the scene.read more
Reuters could not confirm Ukraine’s allegations of torture.
The Kremlin on Monday denied Russia was responsible for atrocities that Ukraine said it found in reclaimed territory.
“It is a lie, and we will of course defend the truth in this story,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, comparing the allegations to events earlier in the war, where Russia claims there is no evidence the atrocities were committed by Ukraine initiated by humans.
Nuclear power plant alert
Ukraine on Monday accused Russian troops of shelling near the Pivden Nuklansk nuclear power plant in the country’s southern Nikolayev region.
The explosion occurred 300 meters (yards) from the reactor shortly after midnight on Monday and damaged the power plant building, Ukrainian atomic energy operator Energoatom said in a statement.
The reactor was not damaged and no staff were injured, it said, and released photos showing a massive crater allegedly caused by the explosion.
“Russia endangers the entire world. We must stop it before it’s too late,” Zelensky said in a social media post.
The strikes will fuel global fears of the possibility of an atomic catastrophe, as fighting has intensified near another nuclear power plant in the south, Zaporozhye, which was seized by Russian forces in March.
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Reporting at Reuters Bureau; Writing by Rami Ayyub and Michael Perry; Editing by Stephen Coates
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