EXCLUSIVE – Zelensky accuses Russia of war crimes and does not see an early end to the war

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  • Zelensky: It is too early to say that the tide is turning into war
  • He says that the outcome of the war depends on the supply of arms
  • He says the counterattack in the northeast should strengthen support
  • Zelensky proposes freeing Russian prisoners of war in ammonia deal

Kyiv (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia on Friday of committing war crimes in northeastern Ukraine and said it was too early to say the tide of war was turning despite rapid territorial gains for his forces this month.

The Ukrainian leader also told Reuters in an interview that the outcome of the war with Russia, now in its seventh month, hinged on the rapid delivery of foreign weapons to his country.

He compared the situation in the newly liberated areas of the northeast to “the bloody show after Posha,” a town near Kyiv where Russian forces were accused of several war crimes in the first phase of the war. Moscow denied the accusations.

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“As of today, 450 dead people are buried (in the northeastern Kharkiv region). But there are others, separate burials of many people. People are tortured. Whole families in certain areas,” Zelensky said.

Asked if there was evidence of war crimes, he said: “All of this is there… There is some evidence, and assessments are underway, Ukrainian and international, and this is very important for us, for the world to realize that.”

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The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Zelensky’s new allegations.

Russia regularly denies targeting civilians during what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine and has said in the past that accusations of human rights abuses are a smear campaign.

Some of the exhumed bodies were found there with their hands tied behind their backs, the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Senhopov, told reporters on Friday at one of the burial sites in the city of Izyum. Read more

Moscow has not commented on the mass burial site at Izyum, which was a stronghold on Russia’s front line before a Ukrainian counterattack forced its forces to flee.

There is no premature end to the war

Friday’s interview took place in the president’s office in the heavily guarded government district, which is now like Zelensky Castle and his advisers. Sandbags were piled in the dimly lit windows of the building’s corridors.

The sirens sounded in Kyiv shortly before the interview – they were used to warn of the danger of incoming missiles.

Zelensky, who visited Izyum on Wednesday, reiterated his appeal to Western and other countries to increase arms supplies to Ukraine.

“We want more help from Turkey, we want more help from South Korea and more help from the Arab world and from Asia,” he said.

Zelensky also noted Germany’s “some psychological barriers” to the supply of military equipment due to its Nazi past, but said such supplies were necessary for Ukraine to defend itself against what he called Russian “fascism.” Berlin has often been accused of failing to provide arms.

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He praised Ukraine’s swift counterattack, but played down any indication that the war was coming to an end. “It is too early to talk about the end of this war,” he said.

Zelensky said he would only support the idea of ​​reopening Russian ammonia exports through Ukraine, an initiative proposed by the United Nations, if Moscow returned Ukrainian prisoners of war to Kyiv. Read more

Speaking in Uzbekistan on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin shrugged off Ukraine’s counterattack with a smile, but warned that Russia would respond more forcefully if its forces came under more pressure. Read more

Zelensky said he was convinced that foreign arms supplies to Ukraine would have been reduced if Kyiv had not counterattacked and that territorial gains would impress other countries.

“I think this is a very important step that has affected or will affect the decisions of certain other countries,” he said.

Asked on the 205th day of the war if he had a chance to relax, Zelensky said: “I really want the Russians to rest.”

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Editing by Gareth Jones

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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