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Ukraine’s allies see risks in Russia’s response to battlefield defeat According to Reuters

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© Reuters. Police and experts work at a mass burial site during an excavation, as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues, in the town of Izium, recently liberated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 17, 2022. REUTERS / Gleb Garanich

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By Pavel Polityuk and Phil Stewart

IZIUM, Ukraine (Reuters) – The top US general on Sunday warned that it was unclear how Russia would react to defeats on the battlefield in Ukraine, as Britain said Moscow’s forces had expanded their attacks. attacks on civilian infrastructure and potentially expand their targets even further.

The General Staff of Ukraine said that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian military attacks in the areas of Kharkiv in the east and Kherson in the south where Ukraine launched counter-attacks this month, as well as in the regions of Donetsk in the southeast.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed not to give up the fighting.

“Perhaps for some of you, after a series of victories, we have now had a lull,” he said in his regular nightly address. “But there will be no lull. There are preparations for the next series … Because Ukraine has to be free. That’s all.”

Ukrainians returned to the northeastern region recaptured during Kyiv’s blitzkrieg earlier this month in search of their deaths while Russian air strikes and artillery repeatedly hit their targets. throughout eastern Ukraine.

WARNING PUTIN, BIDEN

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Ukraine’s swift counterattack and said Moscow would respond more strongly if its troops were put under further pressure.

Such repeated threats have raised concerns that Putin may at some point turn to the use of small nuclear weapons or chemical warfare.

US President Joe Biden, asked what he would say to Putin if he was considering using such a weapon, replied in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. It’s not.” will change the course of war unlike anything since the Second World War.”

Some military analysts say Russia could also stage a nuclear incident at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which is held by Russia but operated by Ukrainian employees.

Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling around the plant damaging buildings and disrupting power lines needed to keep it cool and safe.

US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for vigilance after visiting a base in Poland supporting the Ukraine war effort. His remarks were a reminder of the danger of escalation when the United States and its NATO allies aid Ukraine from afar.

“The war is not going so smoothly for Russia,” he said after a trip to the base, where reporters traveling with him were not identified.

Five civilians have been killed in Russian attacks in the eastern region of Donetsk over the past day and in Nikopol, further to the west, dozens of residential buildings, gas pipelines and power lines have been damaged. attack, regional governors said Sunday.

In an intelligence update, the British Ministry of Defense said Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, including the power grid and a dam, had intensified.

“In the face of defeats on the front lines, Russia has likely expanded the sites it prepares to attack in an attempt to directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government,” it said.

COLLECTIVE Graveyard

On Saturday, Zelenskiy said authorities had found a mass grave containing the bodies of 17 soldiers in Izium, some of whom showed signs of torture.

Izium residents searched for dead loved ones at a forest graveyard where workers began exhuming bodies last week. Ukrainian officials last week said they had found 440 bodies in the woods near Izium. They said most of those killed were civilians and the cause of death has yet to be determined.

The Kremlin has not commented on the discovery of the graves, but in the past Moscow has repeatedly denied that it deliberately attacked civilians or committed atrocities.

On his way between the graves and the trees where the excavation was taking place, Volodymyr Kolesnyk was trying to match the numbers on the wooden cross with the names on a neatly handwritten list to locate the loved ones he knew. He is believed to have been killed in an air raid earlier in the war. Kolesnyk said he received the list from a local funeral company that specializes in digging up graves.

He told Reuters: “They buried the body in a bag, without a coffin, without anything. Initially, I was not allowed in. They (the Russians) said it was mined and asked for it. wait”.

In Kozacha Lopan, a village about 45 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kharkiv and only about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Russian border, a Reuters reporter was taken to a dingy cellar with rooms decorated equipped with bars. used to be a makeshift prison during the occupation. District Mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko said the rooms had been used as a “torture cellar” to hold civilians. Reuters was unable to verify those accounts.

Elsewhere in the region, residents of towns recaptured after six months of Russian occupation are returning with mixed joy and anxiety.

Nataliia Yelistratova, who was traveling 80 kilometers (50 miles) with her husband and daughter on the train from Kharkiv to her hometown, at any moment a shell could explode or a Balakliia plane found the area. His apartment was intact, but scarred by shelling.

“I’m still scared to be here,” she said after spotting a shrapnel in the wall.

(This story reassembles to add the omitted word “no let up” in paragraph three.)

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