Kremlin dismisses mass burial discoveries as ‘lies’

4. Ukraine
Forensic teams dig out a body in a forest near Izyum, Ukraine, on September 19, 2022, where Ukrainian investigators have uncovered more than 440 graves after the city was recaptured from Russian forces. (Photo: AFP)

KUPIANSK, Ukraine — The Kremlin on Monday denied its forces were responsible for large-scale killings in east Ukraine and accused Kyiv of fabricating its discoveries of mass graves in recaptured territory.اضافة اعلان

In the latest incident spurring fears of an atomic emergency, Ukraine said that Russian rockets landed precariously close to a nuclear power station in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine recaptured Izyum and other towns in the east this month, crippling Kremlin supply routes and bringing fresh claims of Russian atrocities with the discovery of hundreds of graves — some containing multiple bodies.

“These are lies,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday. Moscow, he said, “will stand up for the truth in this story.”

Fighting in the northeast has raged and AFP journalists heard artillery exchanges in frontline Kupiansk on Monday, as traumatized civilians headed out of the town now mainly in the hands of Ukrainian forces.

Most of the fire is outgoing, with Ukrainian tanks and artillery targeting Russian positions on the west side of the town, over a mess of broken bridges.

At the entrance of the town, cowering from the sounds of Ukrainian tank shells passing overhead towards Russian lines, civilians gathered to hitch rides or join buses to head out into safer Ukrainian territory.

Russian-backed authorities in east Ukraine said a “punitive” strike by Kyiv’s forces had killed more than a dozen people and wounded more in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk.

The rebel head of the region claimed the strike was “deliberate” and said it would “not go unpunished”.

Ukrainian civilians in the recaptured northeast region of Kharkiv have recounted months of brutality under Russian occupation.

Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency, Energoatom, said Russia struck the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant overnight, with a “powerful explosion” just 300m from its reactors.

Attacks around nuclear facilities in Ukraine have spurred calls from Ukraine and its Western allies to demilitarize surrounding areas.

Europe’s largest atomic facility — the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Russian-held territory in Ukraine — has become a hot spot for concerns after tit-for-tat claims of attacks.

The UN’s atomic agency deployed a monitoring team to the site in early September after new fighting.

Kyiv’s forces have clawed back territory near Mykolaiv, nearing the strategically important hub of Kherson.

Russian forces have continued to shell Ukrainian-held towns near the front lines.

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