The Ukrainian army says it killed dozens of Russian soldiers in fighting in the south, including the Kherson region, which is the center of the Kiev counter-offensive in that part of the country and a key link in Moscow’s supply lines.
Rail traffic to Kherson across the Dnieper River had been cut off, the army’s southern command said Saturday, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and the east.
Defense and intelligence officials from the UK, one of Ukraine’s closest allies in the West since the February 24 invasion of Moscow, portrayed Russian forces as struggling to maintain momentum.
Ukraine has in recent weeks used Western-supplied long-range missile systems to heavily damage three bridges across the Dnieper, cutting off the city of Kherson and — in the opinion of British defense officials — Russia’s 49th Army, stationed on the river’s western bank. seriously lagged behind. vulnerable.
The southern command of the Ukrainian army said more than 100 Russian soldiers had been killed and seven tanks destroyed in fighting in the south on Friday.
The first deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council, Yuri Sobolevsky, told residents to stay away from Russian ammunition depots.
“The Ukrainian army is plunging into the Russians and this is just the beginning,” Sobolevsky wrote on the Telegram app.
The pro-Ukrainian governor of the Kherson region, Dmytro Butriy, said the Berislav district was particularly hard hit. Berislav is located across the river northwest of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station.
“In some villages not a single house has been left intact, all infrastructure has been destroyed; people live in basements,” Butriy wrote on Telegram.
The reports could not be independently verified.
Officials from the Russian-appointed government that governs the Kherson region rejected Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation earlier this week.
In an intelligence update on Saturday, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry said Russia likely built two pontoon bridges and a ferry system to compensate for bridges damaged in Ukrainian attacks.
The Russian-installed authorities in the occupied territories of southern Ukraine may have been preparing to hold referendums on Russia’s accession later this year, and are “probably forcing the population to release personal data in order to compile voting registers,” it added. it up to it.
On Friday, the ministry described the Russian government as “getting desperate,” tens of thousands of soldiers lost in the war. British foreign intelligence chief Richard Moore, Richard Moore, added on Twitter that Russia is “out of steam”.
deaths in prison
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government has ordered a mandatory evacuation of people in the region around the eastern city of Donetsk, the scene of fierce fighting with Russia, Zelenskyy said on Saturday.
In a late night speech, Zelenskyy also said the hundreds of thousands of people still in combat zones in the greater Donbas region should leave.
“There is already a government decision on mandatory evacuation from the Donetsk region,” he said. “Please follow the evacuation. At this stage of the war, terror is Russia’s main weapon.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia exchanged allegations of a rocket attack or explosion that killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the eastern province of Donetsk. The incident happened early Friday in the frontline city of Olenivka held by Moscow-backed separatists.
The Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday released a list of Ukrainian POWs killed and injured in a rocket attack by the Ukrainian army. It said the attack by US-made HIMARS missiles killed 50 prisoners and injured another 73.
The Ukrainian armed forces denied responsibility, saying Russian artillery had attacked the prison to cover up the beatings of those held there. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Friday that Russia had committed a war crime and called for international condemnation.
Ukrainian human rights officer Dmytro Lubinetsk said on national television that he had asked the Red Cross and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission to go to Olenivka.
The ICRC has submitted a request but has not yet received permission from the Russians, he said.
Late on Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said Moscow has invited experts from the United Nations and the ICRC to investigate the dead.
In a statement, the ministry said it was acting “in the interest of conducting an objective investigation”.
Earlier, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday that “all political, criminal and moral responsibility for the bloody massacre against Ukrainians falls on the Ukrainians’ shoulders. [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, his criminal regime and Washington who supports them.”
A charity linked to Ukraine’s Azov regiment said on Telegram it was not immediately able to confirm or deny the authenticity of Russia’s list of dead and wounded.
The different versions of the events could not be verified, but some deaths were confirmed by journalists from the Reuters news agency who visited the prison.
Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities and atrocities against civilians since the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia has denied targeting civilians and allegations of war crimes.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian authorities said Russian bombing raids on the south and east of the country had killed one in southern Mykolaiv and one in eastern Bakhmut.
The death toll in an attack on a bus stop in Mykolaiv on Friday has risen to seven after two men died in hospital, a local official said.
Three Russian S-300 missiles hit a school in the eastern city of Kharkov, Mayor Igor Terekhov said on Telegram, adding that the main building had been destroyed.