Ukraine says many Russians killed in fighting in Kherson

Ukrainian artillerymen at a military assembly center check weapons and special equipment in preparation before performing a mission on the front lines in Kherson, Ukraine on July 15, 2022.

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Ukraine’s military on Saturday said it had killed Russian troops in numbers and destroyed two ammunition dumps during skirmishes in the Kherson area, the focus of Kyiv’s counter-offensive to the south and a link in the conflict. important in Moscow’s supply lines.

The army’s southern command said rail traffic to Kherson via the Dnipro River had been cut, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and east.

Ukraine has used Western-supplied long-range missile systems to severely damage three bridges spanning the Dnipro River in recent weeks, cutting off the city of Kherson and – according to defense officials. Britain – made the Russian 49th Army stationed on the west bank of the river. vulnerable.

“As a result of the fire that established control of the main transport routes in the occupied territory, it is assumed that traffic through the railway bridge crossing the Dnipro River is not,” said the Southern Command of Ukraine. doable”.

It said more than 100 Russian soldiers and seven tanks were destroyed in Friday’s fighting in the Kherson area, the first major town captured by the Russians after their February 24 invasion.

The first vice-president of the Kherson regional council, Yuri Sobolevsky, asked residents to stay away from Russian ammunition dumps.

He wrote on Telegram: “Ukrainian troops are pouring in on the Russians and this is just the beginning.

The governor of the pro-Ukrainian Kherson region, Dmytro Butriy, said Berislav district was hit hard. Berislav is located across the river northwest of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station.

“In some villages, not a single house is intact, all infrastructure has been destroyed, people are living in basements,” he wrote on the Telegram app.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports, and officials from the Russian-appointed administration that runs the Kherson region earlier this week dismissed Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation.

Prison Explosion

The two sides also brought up allegations on Friday of a missile attack or explosion that appeared to have killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the eastern Donetsk province.

The Russian Defense Ministry said 40 prisoners were killed and 75 wounded at a prison in the front-line town of Olenivka held by Moscow-backed separatists. Some of the deaths were confirmed by Reuters journalists at the prison.

A separatist spokesman put the death toll at 53 and accused Kyiv of targeting the prison with US-made HIMARS missiles.

Ukraine’s armed forces denied responsibility, saying that Russian artillery targeted the prison to cover up abuses of those detained there. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of committing war crimes and called for international condemnation.

Reuters could not immediately verify different versions of events.

Reuters television showed the remains of a burned-out cavern with metal beds, some with charred bodies lying on them while others were stacked on military stretchers or on the ground. outside.

Shell fragments are placed on a blue metal bench. Any identification could not be immediately detected and it is not clear where the debris was collected.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was trying to reach the site and had offered to help evacuate the injured.

Ukraine has accused Russia of brutality and barbarism against civilians since its invasion and says it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Culinary diplomacy

Top US and Russian diplomats discussed a United Nations-brokered deal to restart grain shipments from Ukraine and defuse a worldwide food crisis that has been endorsed by the United Nations. Top US and Russian diplomats discussed Friday in their first phone call since before Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country began on February 24.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Washington was not fulfilling its promises regarding food exemptions from sanctions, the State Department said.

A Russian Foreign Ministry account of the phone call quoted Lavrov as telling Blinken that Russia would achieve all the goals of the “special military operation”, and said Russia’s weapons supply The West for Ukraine will only lead to conflict.

Blinken warned Lavrov of any Russian territorial claims in the war in Ukraine.

“The world will not recognize the annexations,” he said.

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