According to him, Russia is trying to strengthen control over the occupied territory and establish civil authorities there, whose task is to hold a referendum on the annexation of these areas to Russia.
In its analysis on Thursday, the British Ministry of Defense reported that Ukrainian artillery damaged three strategic bridges on the Dnieper River with its attacks, almost cutting off the city of Kherson from other areas occupied by the Russian army.
“In the Kherson region, Russian forces very likely built two pontoon bridges and launched a ferry system in response to the fact that nearby bridges were damaged in recent attacks,” the British Ministry of Defense said on Saturday. According to him, the Ukrainians managed to repel several smaller attacks on the front line in Donetsk.
According to London, Russia is also trying to strengthen its control over the civilian population living in the occupied territories. “The Russian-installed authorities are very likely under increasing pressure from Moscow to consolidate control over the area and hold referendums on joining Russia later this year,” the British Ministry of Defense said.
Ukrainian officials announced this week that an operation to liberate Kherson had begun, according to The Guardian. Russian troops called for the city to leave, surrender, or prepare to be destroyed.
An attack on a prison with prisoners of war
Moscow and representatives of the self-proclaimed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) say the Ukrainian military has shelled territory they control in the east of the country, hitting a prison in the village of Olenivka. According to the DNR, 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war died in the attack, initially the separatists were talking about 40 dead.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces denied carrying out such an attack and instead blamed the Russian invasion forces for it. According to him, Moscow is thus trying to accuse Kyiv of war crimes and at the same time hide the torture and execution of prisoners. The Olenivka penal colony houses Ukrainian soldiers, including members of the Azov Regiment, the BBC Russian service noted.
“They struck at night, probably (from the HIMARS systems), on the prison in Jelenivka (Ukrainian name is Olenivka – editor’s note). A direct hit to the barracks with prisoners,” said the Deputy Minister of Information of the DNR, Daniil Bezsonov, according to the BBC. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also condemned the attack on Twitter. He described the shelling as a brutal violation of international human rights.
The TASS agency later wrote, citing the staff of the territorial defense of the DNR, that 53 people died. According to various Russian or separatist sources, the number of wounded ranges from 75 to 130. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov this morning spoke of 40 dead and 75 wounded Ukrainian prisoners of war and eight wounded members of prison guards.
At the same time, Konashenkov claimed that the Ukrainian army used HIMARS missile systems provided to it by the United States. According to the TASS agency, he accused Kyiv of a “bloody provocation” which he said was intended to dissuade Ukrainian soldiers from surrendering. DNR chief Denis Pushilin said, according to the AP agency, that there were 193 prisoners in the prison, without specifying how many of them were Ukrainian prisoners of war.