Russia has set up special teams to collect and hide the bodies of people who died after the breach of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Thursday.
“The evil Russians formed special groups there to remove and, obviously, hide the bodies of the victims,” Zelenskyy said.
He added that the situation in the Russian-occupied parts of the region is “catastrophic, to put it mildly.”
The destruction of the dam caused flooding in large parts of the battlefield.
Farms were destroyed and water supplies to civilians were cut off.
Ukrainian authorities put the death toll at 21, including five people who died from what they described as a Russian attack during the evacuation.
Meanwhile, Russian officials put the death toll at 46.
Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other for the breach.
Here are some of the other developments regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine on Friday, June 23:
UN blacklists Russian forces over deaths of children in Ukraine: reports
The United Nations has put Russian forces and allied armed groups on a “list of shame” over the killings of children in Russia’s war in Ukraine, news agencies reported Thursday, citing documents which the reporters saw.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in an annual report to the Security Council that he was “shocked” by the high number of “grave violations” against children in Ukraine in 2022.
“I am particularly shocked by the high number of attacks on schools and hospitals and protected personnel, and by the high number of children killed and maimed attributed to Russian forces and armed partners group,” said Guterres.
The UN chief said that Russian forces and proxy armed groups were listed for carrying out 480 attacks on schools and hospitals, and for killing children, mainly through their shelling and air strikes in towns and cities.
According to the report, 136 Ukrainian children died, while 518 were injured.
The report is scheduled to be released to the public next week.
Kyiv says Moscow is considering ‘terror’ attack on nuclear plant, Russia denies
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that according to information received by Ukrainian spies, Russia is considering carrying out a “terrorist” attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant involving the release of radiation.
“Intelligence has received information that Russia is considering the scenario of a terrorist act at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – a terrorist act with the release of radiation,” he said in a video statement on Telegram.
“They’ve got everything ready for this.”
Zelenskyy did not say what evidence the intelligence agencies based their assertion on.
Moscow denied the Ukrainian leader’s allegation, calling it “another lie” and saying a team of UN nuclear inspectors had gone to the plant and given everything the all-clear.
After a meeting with security chiefs and diplomats, Zelenskyy urged pressure on the Kremlin to end its occupation of the plant, which was seized by Russian forces in the days of the invasion that began in February 2022.
The EU says Ukraine is making progress on reforms and is pursuing membership talks
The European Union said Thursday that Ukraine remains on course toward opening membership talks with the bloc, despite the war.
“They are on the road, they are working hard. After all, the country was attacked,” the European Commissioner for relations with neighbors of the EU, Oliver Varhelyi, said.
“Compared to that, I think they delivered.”
In an interim report that talks only about the changes the country needs to make in order to start the talks, Varhelyi said Kyiv has “completed” two of the seven measures on judicial oversight and media freedom. and that “good progress” has been made on constitutional court reform.
However, he added that only “some progress” has been made in dealing with corruption, money laundering and the oligarchs’ system, and dealing with minority groups that still needs to be addressed.
A full report on Ukraine’s progress towards the start of membership talks is due in October.
dvv/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)