Sept. 17 (BP) — Russia will continue to defend the Luhansk region in Eastern Ukraine, but it is unclear whether its forces have sufficient reserves or adequate morale to prevail, British defense officials said Saturday.
Ukraine continues its counteroffensive in the north-east, while Russian troops have established a defensive line along the Luhansk border, according to the British Ministry of Defense.
“Any substantial loss of territory in Luhansk will unambiguously undermine Russia’s strategy,” the MOD said.
The report comes a day after Ukrainian authorities discovered more than 440 bodies in a mass grave in Izium. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a video address late Friday that torture chambers were found in the Kharkiv region, which Ukrainian forces have liberated.
“There is already clear evidence of torture, humiliating treatment of people,” Zelenskiy said, calling for an international response. “Moreover, there is evidence that Russian soldiers, whose positions were not far from this place, shot at the buried just for fun.”
Zelenskiy added that the events in Izium were a repeat of the atrocities in Bucha.
Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for Human Rights, said that her team had documented summary executions of 50 civilians during a one-day visit to Bucha.
In April Ukrainian prosecutors filed criminal charges against Russian soldiers for their actions in the city.
On Friday, Zelensky said United Nations inspectors would also be looking into the killings in Izium.
“It is good that the UN units are already preparing a group of employees who will visit this place near Izium, who will see and be able to report to everyone in the UN system about what the Russian terrorists did,” the president said.