Kremlin says Ukrainian war crimes claims are a lie

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This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

MOSCOW, Sept 19 (Reuters) – The Kremlin on Monday rejected allegations that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv province as a “lie”.

Around 450 bodies – most of which Ukraine says are civilians – have been found in mass graves near Izium after Russian troops were this month forced out of the Kharkiv region, much of which they had controlled since the first weeks of their military campaign in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said investigators at the site had found evidence of torture, including bodies with hands tied, and accused Russian troops of committing war crimes.

Asked on Monday about Zelenskiy’s statements, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “It’s the same scenario as in Bucha. It’s a lie, and of course we will defend the truth in this story.”

Russia previously rejected claims that its troops had committed war crimes in Bucha, outside Kyiv, after evidence of civilians being killed while the town was controlled by Russian troops came to light after Russia’s withdrawal at the end of March.

In other developments:

* President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed there would be no let-up in Ukraine’s fight to regain its territory as Kyiv said its troops had crossed the Oskil River, preparing for an assault on Russia’s occupation forces in the eastern Donbas region.


* Russian forces struck the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region but its reactors have not been damaged and are working normally, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said.

* Russia has probably lost at least four combat jets in Ukraine within the last 10 days, taking its attrition to about 55 since the beginning of its invasion, the British military said.

* The Russian army, seeking contract soldiers for what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, is using mobile recruiting trucks to attract volunteers, offering nearly $3,000 a month as an incentive.

* Ukraine’s southern command said its forces struck a radar station near Kherson and a pontoon crossing near Nova Kakhovka east of Kherson, where a Ukrainian counter-offensive has focused on taking out bridges across the Dnipro and Inhulets Rivers.

* Ukraine’s general defence staff said its forces repelled Russian attacks in the areas of Mykolaivka Druga, Vesela Dolyna and Bakhmut settlements in the Donetsk region.

* Reuters could not verify battlefield reports.

* Zelenskiy said investigators had discovered new evidence of torture used against some soldiers buried near Izium, in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

* The Kremlin rejected allegations that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region as a “lie”. Moscow regularly denies committing atrocities in the war or deliberately attacking civilians.


* U.S. President Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin not to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons in the wake of Russian military setbacks in Ukraine.


* “It’s scary … I’ve still kept this feeling that any moment a shell could explode or an airplane could fly over. I’m still scared to be here.” – Nataliia Yelistratova as she returned to the recently liberated northeastern town of Balakliia.

* “I would love to serve in the airborne troops. My parents brought me up since childhood to love my homeland, to protect the Russian world. I believe the power is with us.” – Russian musician Viktor Yakunin at a military recruitment office.

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