In spite of his forces’ rapid territorial advances this month, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia on Friday of committing war crimes in the northeast of Ukraine and said it was too early to say the war was turning.
In an interview with Reuters, the Ukrainian president also said that the speedy delivery of foreign weaponry to his nation will determine how the war with Russia, which is currently in its seventh month, would turn out.
In a town close to Kyiv, he accused Russian forces of committing several war crimes during the initial stages of the conflict and compared the situation in recently liberated northeastern regions to “the bloody soap opera after Bucha.” Moscow refuted the allegations.
“As of today, there are 450 dead people, buried (in the northeastern Kharkiv region). But there are others, separate burials of many people. Tortured people. Entire families in certain territories,” Zelenskyy said.
When questioned about proof of war crimes, he responded: “All this is there… There is some evidence, and assessments are being conducted, Ukrainian and international, and this is very important for us, for the world to recognise this.”
Regarding Zelenskyy’s fresh accusations, the Kremlin did not respond to a request for comment right away.
In its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Russia routinely denies targeting civilians and has said that allegations of human rights violations are baseless.
Oleh Synhubov, the governor of the Kharkiv region, revealed to reporters on Friday that some of the bodies that had been exhumed at the location had their wrists tied behind their backs.
Moscow has not responded to the mass grave site at Izium, a Russian frontline position that was forced to flee by the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The interview on Friday was conducted at the president’s office, which is located in the heavily guarded government district and has now become something of a stronghold for Zelenskyy and his advisors. The building’s labyrinthine, poorly illuminated halls had sandbags heaped in the windows.
Just before the interview, an air raid siren, which is designed to alert people to the threat of approaching missiles, sounded in Kyiv.
Zelenskyy reiterated his call for Western countries and others to increase their shipments of weaponry to Ukraine during his visit to Izium on Wednesday.
“We would want more help from Turkey, We would want more help from South Korea. More help from the Arab world. From Asia,” he said.
Berlin being slow on providing weapons
Zelenskyy also cited “certain psychological barriers” Germany may have due to its Nazi background when it comes to delivering military weapons, but he said that such supplies were necessary for Ukraine to protect itself against what he termed Russian “fascism.” He has frequently charged Berlin with being slow to provide weapons.
He praised Ukraine’s quick counteroffensive but dismissed any notion that the war was nearing its conclusion. It’s too early to discuss putting this conflict to an end, he said.
Russian ammonia exports
Zelenskyy said he would only support the idea of reopening Russian ammonia exports through Ukraine, an initiative proposed by the United Nations, if Moscow handed back Ukrainian prisoners of war to Kyiv.
Speaking in Uzbekistan on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off Ukraine’s counter-offensive with a smile, but warned that Russia would respond more forcefully if its troops were put under further pressure.
Zelenskyy claimed that he had been certain that foreign military shipments to Ukraine would have decreased if Kyiv hadn’t started its counteroffensive and that the territorial gains would amaze other nations.
“I think this is a very important step that influenced, or will influence, the decisions of certain other countries,” he said.
On the 205th day of the war, when asked whether he ever had time to relax Zelenskiy said, “I’d really want the Russians to relax.”