© Reuters. Firefighters work at a site of a professional college heavily damaged by a Russian missile attack, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine today. July 30, 2022. REUTERS / Sofiia Gatilova
By Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk
KYIV (Reuters) – Russia on Sunday invited experts from the United Nations and the Red Cross to probe the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists, while President Ukraine ordered the evacuation of residents in the eastern region of Donetsk.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said hundreds of thousands of people were still suffering from heavy fighting in the Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
“Many people refuse to leave but it still needs to be done,” Zelenskiy said in a televised address late Saturday. “The more people leave the Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.”
Ukraine and Russia have brought forward allegations of involvement in a missile attack or explosion early Friday that appears to have killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the front-line town of Olenivka in eastern Donetsk.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday it had invited experts from the United Nations and the Red Cross to probe the dead “in the interest of conducting an objective investigation,” the defense ministry said on Thursday. Sunday.
The ministry has released a list of 50 Ukrainian POWs killed and 73 wounded in the Ukrainian military’s attack on the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Ukraine’s armed forces denied responsibility, saying that Russian artillery targeted the prison to cover up abuses there. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Friday said Russia had committed war crimes and called for international condemnation.
Reuters journalists confirmed several deaths at the prison, but could not immediately verify different versions of events.
The UN said it was prepared to send experts to investigate if agreed to by both sides. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was reaching out and offered to help evacuate the injured.
Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities against civilians and identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia denies targeting civilians and war criminals during the invasion, which it calls “special operations”.
Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that more than 100 Russian soldiers were killed and seven tanks destroyed in the south on Friday, including the Kherson area that was the focus of Kyiv’s counterattack in that area. of the country and is an important link in Moscow’s supply lines.
The army’s southern command said rail traffic to Kherson via the Dnipro River had been cut, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and east.
South of the town of Bakhmut, which Russia considers a top target in Donetsk, the Ukrainian military said Russian forces had “partially succeeded” in establishing control over the Semyhirya settlement by attacking it from three direction.
British defense and intelligence officials, who have been one of Ukraine’s most loyal allies since Moscow’s invasion of the neighboring country on February 24, describe Russian forces as struggling to stay afloat. motivation.
Ukraine has used Western-supplied long-range missile systems to severely damage three bridges spanning the Dnipro River in recent weeks, cutting off the city of Kherson and – according to defense officials. Britain – making the Russian 49th Army very vulnerable on the west bank of the river.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield reports.
Officials from the Russian-appointed administration that runs the Kherson region earlier this week dismissed Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation.
On Friday, the British Ministry described the Russian government as “increasingly desperate” for having lost tens of thousands of soldiers in the war. British MI6 foreign intelligence chief Richard Moore added https://twitter.com/ChiefMI6/status/1553309715299536896?s=20&t=ScC3FnVxfbtD1_W6tPFDvQ that Russia is “running out of energy” “.