By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/MOSCOW (Worthy News) – Russian and Ukrainian authorities say they have launched criminal investigations into strikes that reportedly killed at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war at a pre-trial detention center in eastern Ukraine. The attacks overshadowed attempts by Ukraine to begin exporting grain to hungry nations.
The prison in Yelenovka where the attack occurred was housing Ukrainian service personnel who had been there since the fall of the coastal city of Mariupol.
Russian authorities suggested they were targeted to prevent them from testifying against Kyiv in a war crimes trial or deterring other Ukrainian armed forces from surrendering.
However, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has accused Russia of a “petrifying war crime” over the killings and called on world leaders to “recognize Russia as a terrorist state.”
Authorities also said Saturday that new Russian strikes on Ukraine’s frontlines left one person dead in the southern city of Mykolaiv and hit a school in the northeastern city of Kharkiv. Earlier, at least five people were reportedly killed and several injured in a strike on a bus stop in Mykolaiv.
But the Ukrainian military said it would not give up the fight. It claimed to have killed scores of Russian soldiers while destroying two ammunition dumps in the southern Kherson region, the focus of Kyiv’s counter-offensive.
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Kyiv said its army also destroyed a critical railway link in the area, further isolating Russian forces. The fighting overshadowed attempts to start resuming grain exports.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, visited Chornomorsk, a port in the south Odesa region, to meet with the representatives and watch preparations for the shipments.
He said the country is ready to begin exporting grain from its Black Sea ports but is waiting for the go-ahead from the United Nations and Turkey, which brokered a deal with Russia to allow Ukrainian ships safe passage.
“We hope this grain export will start. If so, we hope everyone keeps their promises and guarantees,” stressed.
“We hope both the vessels and the people will be safe. The people involved are risking their lives as we don’t know the outcome of this process. However, we know with whom we have to deal, Russia,” Zelensky added.
But clashes seem to undermine these efforts. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said there should no longer be any doubt that Russia intended to dismantle Ukraine. And Moscow also retaliated against Western sanctions over the war. On Saturday, Russia’s energy giant Gazprom suspended gas supplies to Latvia following tensions between Moscow and the west over the conflict in Ukraine.
The company already drastically cut gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline this week to about 20 percent of its capacity. European Union states have accused Russia of using energy as a weapon, though Moscow blamed the capacity issues on maintenance and Western actions.
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