Photo: Behrouz Mehri – Pool / Getty Images
President Volodimir Zelensky alleged on Friday that Russian troops were leaving mines, including on dead bodies, as they withdrew from Ukraine’s northern region.
Zelensky, speaking in his late-night video message, warned citizens returning to areas where Ukrainian forces have regained control to be “very careful” in the face of new dangers, including the possibility of further shelling.
“The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country. The withdrawal is slow but noticeable,” Zelensky said.
“First of all, the bombing can continue. Second, they are mining all of this territory. Mining houses, equipment, even the bodies of dead people. Too many booby-trap mines, too many other hazards.”
Russia continued to withdraw some of its ground forces from areas around kyiv after saying earlier this week that it would reduce military activity near the Ukrainian capital and the northern city of Chernihiv.
Zelensky issued the mine warning and said that the humanitarian crisis deepened in the surrounded city of Mariupol, with Russian forces blocking evacuation operations for the second day in a row, though 3,071 people were rescued from the besieged city, even after the International Committee of the Red Cross, the humanitarian aid group, said in a statement I had to get back from the city.
“Today, our team tried to facilitate safe passage out of Mariupol. But he had to return to Zaporizhzhia after conditions made it impossible to continue,” the statement read. “We will try again tomorrow.”
The Kremlin accused the Ukrainians of launching a helicopter attack on a fuel depot on Russian soil on Friday.
Ukraine denied responsibility for the fire explosion, but if Moscow’s claim is confirmed, it would be the first known attack of the war in which Ukrainian planes penetrated Russian airspace.
Zelenskyy warned of tough battles ahead when the Russians redeploy troops. “We are preparing for an even more active defense,” he said.
The invasion has left thousands dead and has expelled more than 4 million refugees from Ukraine.
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