- Dead civilians on the streets of the recaptured city near Kiev
- Ukraine accuses Russian forces of planting landmines
- ICRC convoy on the way to the besieged Mariupol port
- Ukrainian negotiator Zelenskiy-Putin points to the talks
- Russia’s chief negotiator says the draft agreement is not ready for high-level talks
Pucha, Ukraine, April 3 (Reuters) – As Ukraine said its forces had recaptured all areas around Kiev, the mayor of the liberated city said 300 civilians had been killed and victims found during a month-long occupation by Russian forces. A mass grave still lies in the streets.
Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that Ukrainian troops had recaptured more than 30 cities and villages around Kiev, demanding full control of the capital for the first time since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.
In Pucha, a neighboring town 37 km (23 miles) northwest of the capital, Reuters, Reuters saw bodies lying in the streets and the hands and feet of several corpses pierced from the still-open grave in the church grounds. read more
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After more than five weeks of war, Russia has withdrawn forces from the north threatening Kyiv to reunite in eastern Ukraine.
“The whole of Kiev has been liberated from the invaders,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Malyar wrote on Facebook on Saturday.
There was no Russian comment on the claim, which Reuters could not immediately confirm.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned in a video address: “They are mining all over the region. Houses are being cut down, equipment is being cut down, even the bodies of the dead.” He did not cite evidence. read more
Ukraine’s emergency services say more than 1,500 explosives were found in a single day during a search of the village of Dmitrovka, west of the capital.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has not responded to a request for comment on the allegations. Reuters could not verify them independently. Moscow refuses to target civilians and denies war crimes charges.
In Pucha, Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said more than 300 residents were killed. Many residents mourned the death of the brushes with tears.
“Bastards!” Vasily, 66, cried out in anger as he saw more than a dozen bodies lying on the road outside his home. “Sorry. The tank behind me was shooting. Dogs!”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was shocked by the atrocities in Pucha and spoke out in support of the International Criminal Court’s inquiry into war crimes.
Since President Vladimir Putin called for a “special military operation” to militarize and “reduce” Ukraine, Russia has failed to capture a major city, instead besieging urban areas and uprooting a quarter of the country’s population.
Russia has portrayed the deployment of its troops near Kiev as a gesture of goodwill in peace talks. Ukraine and its allies say Russia has been forced to shift its focus to eastern Ukraine after suffering heavy losses.
Both sides described the talks in Istanbul last week as “tough” via video link. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday, “The main thing is that talks continue in Istanbul or elsewhere.”
Ukrainian negotiator David Arakamiya said on Saturday that there had been enough progress in the direct talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zhelensky.
But Russia’s chief negotiator has said he’s not ready to send a draft agreement to a high-level meeting, despite the fact that Ukraine’s agree to remain neutral, abandon nuclear weapons, join a military base and refuse to host military bases.
But Vladimir Medinsky pointed out that there had been no progress in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and in the two Russian-backed rebel regions that Putin recognized independently in February.
“I repeat: Russia’s position on Crimea and the Donbass remains unchanged,” he told the Telegram.
Negotiations will continue via video conference on Monday, he said. read more
Mariupol is waiting
Among those killed near Kyiv was Maksim Levin, a Ukrainian photographer and videographer who worked for a news website and was a longtime contributor to Reuters. read more
In the east, the Red Cross expected a convoy to evacuate civilians from the besieged port of Mariupol on Sunday, abandoning previous efforts for security reasons. Russia blames ICRC for delay read more
Mariupol is Russia’s main target in the southeastern Ukrainian region of Donbass, and tens of thousands of civilians there are seldom stranded for food and water. read more
British military intelligence says Russian naval forces have laid siege to the Ukrainian coast over the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, but Russia’s preference for landfills poses a high risk.
The reported mines, whose origin was unclear and controversial, posed a serious threat to shipping in the Black Sea.
The southern port city of Odessa was hit by missiles early Sunday morning, the city council said.
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Additional report on Reuters bureaus by Mukachevo, Natalia Ginetz in Ukraine, Alessandra Brentis, Guy Balkanbridge in London and Simon Cameron-Moore and William Schomberg; Editing Stephen Coates, William Mallard and Frances Kerry
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