Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that investigators have found evidence of 400 war crimes committed by Russian forces in areas of Kherson abandoned by Moscow’s forces as they retreated from the strategic southern region.
In his nightly video address on Sunday, the President said: “Investigators have recorded more than 400 Russian war crimes; bodies of civilians and military personnel who had been killed are being found. The atrocities the Russian army has left behind in Kherson Oblast (region) are the same as (atrocities committed) in other parts of our country that it was able to occupy.”
Kherson city, the only regional capital to be captured by Russia since Moscow launched its invasion of Kiev on February 24, was liberated by Ukrainian troops on November 11.
The region, along with three others, was proclaimed by President Vladimir Putin to be part of Russia, at a ceremony in the Kremlin in September. After Russian troops withdrew from the city, crowds of flag-waving Ukrainians greeted the soldiers with hugs and kisses.
Officials have returned to run Kherson’s administration after the retreat of some 30,000 Russian occupation troops.
In his address, Zelensky also confirmed that “Russian soldiers and mercenaries who were left behind in Kherson were being detained, while sabotage units are being neutralised”, reports Ukrayinska Pravda.
He further said that “stabilisation” will be ensured and law and order will return to 226 cities, towns and villages in the region with a total population of “over 100,000 people, as of now”.
The President’s war crimes accusation comes shortly after Yevhenii Yenin, First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, said earlier on Sunday that torture chambers set up by Russian forces were found in Kherson.
Yenin claimed that some of the chambers were located in the premises of local police departments. Since the beginning of the war, mass graves have been found across Ukraine, including Bucha, Izyum and Mariupol, reports the BBC.
Ukraine has accused Russian troops of being behind the atrocities.
Last month, a UN commission said that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine and that Russian forces were responsible for the “vast majority” of human rights violations.