Ukraine has found a mass grave of more than 440 bodies in the northeastern town of Izyum that was recaptured from Russian forces days ago, officials say, as fighting rolls into its 205th day.

Ukrainian authorities exhume bodies of people killed as a result of war at the Izium city after Russian Forces withdrawal in, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities exhume bodies of people killed as a result of war at the Izium city after Russian Forces withdrawal in, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine. (AA)

Friday, September 16, 2022

Ukraine conflict can get more serious, Putin warns

President Vladimir Putin brushed off a lightning Ukrainian counter-offensive with a smile but warned that Russia would respond more forcefully if its troops were put under further pressure.

Speaking after a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, Putin cast the offensive as a necessary step to prevent what he said was a Western plot to break Russia apart.

Moscow, he said, was in no hurry in Ukraine. And its goals remained unchanged. 

Türkiye a ‘reliable route’ for gas deliveries from Russia - Putin

Türkiye is a “reliable route” for gas deliveries from Russia, the Russian president said.

During a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Putin thanked Erdogan for the Türkiye-brokered Ukraine grain deal.

He expressed hope that Ukrainian grain will reach the poorest countries, and said: “This goal has not been achieved yet.” 

Putin says Russia wants to stop 'conflict' in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow will do everything to stop the "conflict" in Ukraine.

Speaking at a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on the sidelines of the SCO summit, Putin said to his regret, the Ukrainian side refused talks.

"I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns that you constantly express. We will do everything to stop this as soon as possible. Only, unfortunately, the opposing side, the leadership of Ukraine, announced its refusal from the negotiation process , stated that it wants to achieve its goals by military means, as they say 'on the battlefield.' 

Ukraine finds graves and 'torture centres' in recaptured east

Ukrainian investigators descended on a pine forest outside the recaptured town of Izyum and began pulling hundreds of hastily buried bodies from the sandy soil.

At least one of the corpses had been buried with bound hands, an AFP journalist saw.

Kiev officials said they had counted 450 graves at the mass burial site and found 10 alleged "torture centres" after the Kharkiv region was recaptured from Russian forces.

Several pro-Russian officials killed in Ukraine

A blast in Ukraine's Russian-held city of Luhansk killed the separatist administration's top prosecutor and his deputy, pro-Moscow authorities said, while other attacks were reported in the south.

This is the latest of a series of targeted attacks against pro-Russian officials in occupied areas.

"Today, Prosecutor General Sergei Gorenko and his deputy Ekaterina Steglenko died as a result of a terrorist act," the press service of the leader of so-called Luhansk People's Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, said on Telegram. 

UN wants to send team to probe mass grave in Ukraine’s Izyum

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' office has said it wants to send a team to Izyum to verify Ukrainian allegations that a mass grave has been found after recapturing the city from Russia.

"Our colleagues in Ukraine are following up on these allegations, and they are aiming at organising a monitoring visit to Izyum to determine the circumstances of the death of these individuals," spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell said. She added that the team was hoping to visit the northeastern city "soon".

Ukraine said on Friday it had counted 450 graves at just one burial site near Izyum, which was seized back by Ukrainian forces during a lightning counter-offensive across the south and east that has claimed back large swathes of territory.

Ten 'torture rooms' found in recaptured region: Ukraine

Ukraine has said it had discovered at least 10 locations in territory recaptured from Russian forces in the east of the country that had been used for torture.

As Ukrainian troops have retaken swathes of territory in the north east, officials have said they feared discovering Russian war crimes in newly-liberated areas.

"I can talk about the presence of at least 10 torture centres in settlements" in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine's police chief Igor Klymenko said during a briefing, the Interfax news agency reported.

Czech diplomat spying for Russia sacked: Government

A senior Czech diplomat was fired for disclosing information to a Russian intelligence service, the foreign minister said on Friday.

Local media said the man had the highest security clearance and had worked for the Russian foreign intelligence service SVR.

The Denik N daily said the man had worked for the ministry from the 1990s in various jobs, including embassies. He allegedly met a Russian couple who recruited him to work for the SVR while working in an African country.

Five more grain ships leave Ukraine under Istanbul deal: Türkiye

Five more ships have left Ukrainian ports under the historic Istanbul grain export deal, the Turkish National Defence Ministry has said.

A ministry statement, which did not disclose the ships’ points of departure or destinations, said shipments from Ukrainian ports are continuing as planned.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an Ankara-brokered agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine conflict erupted in February.

Russia, China ties ‘harm’ international peace: Taiwan

Taiwan has condemned growing ties between Russia and China as a threat to global peace and stability after the leaders of the two nations met face to face in Uzbekistan's Samarkand.

"(Russia) calls those who maintain peace and the status quo provocative, which highly demonstrates the harm caused by the alliance of Chinese and Russian authoritarian regimes on international peace, stability, democracy and freedom," Taiwan's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Ukrainian counter-attack effective, not end of conflict: NATO’s Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Ukraine's counter-attack against Russian troops have been very effective but warned nations should prepare for the long haul as this did not signal the beginning of the end of the conflict.

"It is of course extremely encouraging to see that Ukrainian armed forces have been able to take back territory and also strike behind Russian lines," Stoltenberg told BBC radio.

"At the same time, we need to understand that this is not the beginning of the end of the war, we need to be prepared for the long haul."

US announces $600M in new military aid for Ukraine

The White House has approved a new package of up to $600 million in additional military aid for Ukraine, as Washington moves to support Kiev's counteroffensive against Russia's forces.

The aid consists of equipment and services, as well as training, the executive branch said in a statement. It did not provide further details, including the type of weapons provided.

Since Russia entered Ukraine in February, the United States has provided more than $15 billion in military assistance to Kiev.

This latest US announcement comes two weeks after the Ukrainian army began to wage a massive counteroffensive against Russian troops.

Zelenskyy: Ukraine finds a mass grave in recaptured Izyum city

Ukrainian authorities have found a mass grave in the recaptured city of Izyum, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address, adding that more information should be available on Friday.

"Russia is leaving death behind it everywhere and must be held responsible," he said.

"We want the world to know what the Russian occupation has caused," he said, without giving details on the number of bodies found or their cause of death. "We need to have more clear and verified information tomorrow." 

Serhiy Bolvinov, the chief police investigator for Kharkiv region, told Sky News that forensic investigations would be carried out on every body.

"I can say it is one of the largest burial sites in a big town in liberated (areas)... 440 bodies were buried in one place," Bolvinov said.

Report: Large part of Ukraine grain storage lost in war

Ukraine has lost nearly 15 percent of its grain storage capacity in the war with Russia, threatening its role as a key food supplier to the world, a new report has said.

The US government-backed Conflict Observatory said Russians had seized 6.24 million tonnes worth of food storage capacity, and that another 2.25 million tonnes of capacity in Ukrainian hands had been destroyed.

In total, the war has removed around 8.5 million of Ukraine's 58-million-tonne storage capacity, threatening the country's future ability to get crucial supplies of wheat, corn and sunflower oil to the world market, according to the report.

For live updates from Thursday (September 15), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies