Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday accused Russia of committing war crimes in northeastern Ukraine and said it was too early to say that the tide of the war was turning even though his forces had gained territory. quickly this month.
The Ukrainian leader also told Reuters in an interview that the outcome of the war with Russia, now in its seventh month, depends on the prompt delivery of foreign weapons to his country.
He compared the situation in the newly liberated areas of the northeast “to the bloody opera after Bucha”, a town near Kyiv, where he accused Russian forces of committing numerous war crimes during the period. the beginning of the war. Moscow denies the allegation.
“As of today, there are 450 dead, buried (in the northeastern Kharkiv region). But there are others, separate burials of many. Those who were tortured. Entire families in one certain territories,” Zelenskyy said.
When asked if there was evidence of war crimes, he said: “All of this is there… There is some evidence, and assessments are underway, Ukrainian and international, and what This is very important to us, for the world to recognize this.”
The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Zelenskyy’s new allegations.
Russia regularly denies targeting civilians during what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine and has previously said the allegations of human rights abuses were a smear campaign.
The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Synhubov, told reporters Friday at one of the burial sites in the city of Izium that several bodies unearthed there were found with their hands tied behind their backs.
Moscow has not yet commented on the mass burial site in Izium, which was a frontline stronghold for Russia before Ukraine’s counteroffensive sent its forces fleeing.
There is NO EARLY END TO THE WAR
Friday’s interview took place at the president’s office in the heavily guarded government compound, which now resembles a citadel for Zelenskyy and his advisers. Sandbags piled up on the windows of the building’s dim, maze-like hallway.
An air raid siren – used to warn of an oncoming missile threat – sounded in Kyiv shortly before the interview.
Zelenskyy, who visited Izium on Wednesday, repeated his call for Western countries and others to increase arms supplies to Ukraine.
“We want Turkey to help more, we want South Korea to help more,” he said.
Zelenskyy also cited “certain psychological barriers” in Germany in supplying military equipment because of the country’s fascist past, but said such supplies were crucial for Ukraine to defend itself. himself against what he called Russia’s “fascism”. He often accused Berlin of dragging its feet in supplying weapons.
He praised Ukraine’s swift counter-attack but dismissed any suggestion that the war was entering some sort of endgame. “It’s too early to talk about ending this war,” he said.
Zelenskyy said he would only support the idea of reopening Russia’s ammonia exports through Ukraine, an initiative proposed by the United Nations, if Moscow returns Ukrainian prisoners to Kyiv.
Speaking in Uzbekistan on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin smiled, denying Ukraine’s counter-attack, but warned that Russia would respond more strongly if its troops were under further pressure.
Zelenskyy said he was convinced that the supply of foreign weapons to Ukraine would decrease if Kyiv did not launch a counter-offensive and that gaining territory would impress other countries.
“I think this is a very important step that affects or will influence the decisions of some other countries,” he said.
Asked on the 205th day of the war if he would ever get a chance to relax, Zelenskyy said: “I really want the Russians to relax.”
(Editing by Gareth Jones)