Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he wants to end the war in Ukraine “as soon as possible” as Kyiv authorities investigate alleged atrocities by Moscow forces and several pro-Kremlin officials have been killed in the occupied territory.
On Friday, Ukraine tightened control over swaths of newly liberated territory in the northeast of Kharkiv region as heavy fighting continued further south around Donbass and Kherson near the Black Sea, with Russian missiles hitting several Ukrainian cities, including a dam in Krivoy Rog. which has been hit repeatedly this week.
“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns that you constantly express,” Putin told Indian President Narendra Modi during talks in Uzbekistan.
“We will do everything we can to stop this as soon as possible. But, unfortunately, the opposite side, the leadership of Ukraine, declared its rejection of the negotiation process and stated that it wants to achieve its goals by military means, as they say, on the battlefield.”
Mr Modi said it was “not a time for war” but for “democracy, diplomacy and dialogue”, although he has not publicly criticized Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which has killed thousands of civilians and displaced millions of people just over than six years. months.
Mr. Putin is courting the major non-Western powers to offset the tough sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, the European Union and their closest allies.
On Thursday, he told Chinese leader Xi Jinping that Russia understands Beijing’s “questions and concerns” about the war and appreciates its “balanced stance” on the issue.
The Kremlin’s diplomatic efforts came after its forces retreated in disarray from much of the Kharkiv region this month, abandoning dozens of tanks and other armored vehicles and large stockpiles of ammunition in the face of a swift Ukrainian counterattack.
The head of the National Police, Igor Klymenko, said that this week, the bodies of about 50 civilians were found in the recently liberated districts of the Kharkiv region, and work is underway to exhume and identify about 445 bodies buried in a mass grave in the city of Izyum. which was a stronghold of the Russians for several months.
It is unclear whether civilians or soldiers, or both, were buried in the mass grave, and Mr Klymenko said it was “a work not only [a] a week to determine the nature of the injuries and the cause of death.”
He also said that 10 “torture chambers” had been found in Izyum and other cities controlled by Russian troops until this month, saying: “We know for sure that people were tortured there, and we already have information about those who died there. “.
“We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has led to … Russia leaves death everywhere. And she should be responsible for this,” President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Moscow denies committing war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine, where it claims that its “special military operation” aims to “denazify” a pro-Western democracy, protect its Russian-speaking population and prevent it from joining NATO.
The Kremlin’s troops are now under heavy pressure in much of eastern and southern Ukraine, and its appointed officials and collaborators in the occupied territories are frequently attacked, apparently by Kyiv undercover operatives or guerrilla groups.
In occupied Luhansk, the chief prosecutor and his deputy were killed in an explosion in their office, and in Russian-controlled Berdyansk, a pro-Moscow official and his wife who were working on referendum plans to join Russia were killed in an explosion. garage of your house.
Moscow also said three people were killed on Friday when Ukrainian missiles hit the main administrative building in occupied Kherson.