Ukraine has collected hundreds of dead Russian soldiers and is storing their bodies in a refrigerated train to send them back to their families.
Soldiers were brought from across Kyiv region, the northern city of Chernihiv and a number of other regions to a marshalling yard just outside the Ukrainian capital, the liaison chief said civil-military of the country, Volodymyr Lyamzin.
Although there has been no reliable estimate of the number of Russian soldiers killed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that 27,000 soldiers have died since the start of the war.
Russia ‘loses battle for Kharkiv’ as Moscow cuts power to Finland – Ukraine news live
People in head-to-toe protective suits were seen lifting body bags into the compartments.
Mr. Lyamzin added that more refrigerated trains were parked in other parts of the country and were used for the same purpose.
Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Anton Garashenko said there were more than 250 dead soldiers piled into the cars and claimed that Russia “still isn’t recovering the bodies”.
It comes as Ukraine claimed Russian troops had started to withdraw from its second-largest city after weeks of heavy shelling.
Kharkiv has been a key target for Moscow after it took control of the country’s east, called Donbass, after its failure to capture kyiv.
However, the troops struggled to gain ground.
“The Russians really haven’t done much in terms of tactical gains recently,” said a Western official, describing the front line of the war as “swinging”.
“The Ukrainians continue to launch counterattacks, especially around Kherson and Kharkiv. We expect this to turn into a long battle of attrition,” added the official, who requested anonymity.
Other key developments:
• President Zelensky says he has talks with Russia to get injured defenders out of Azovstal plant in Mariupol
were “very complex”
• G7 foreign ministers promise to continue to exert economic pressure on Russia and supply arms to Ukraine
• Russian fighter jets took part in exercises in the Baltic Sea, Interfax reported
• Russia says it will take adequate precautionary measures if NATO deploys nuclear forces and infrastructure near its border
Ukraine “won” the battle for Kharkiv
The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces were withdrawing from Kharkiv and concentrating on protecting supply routes while launching mortar, artillery and air strikes on the eastern Donetsk region.
The decision indicates that Ukraine likely won the Battle of Kharkiv, according to the American think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
He added that Russian units “generally did not attempt to hold their ground” against counterattacks by Ukrainian forces over the past few days.
“Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing Kharkiv, then evicting them from the city, as they did Russian forces trying to seize kyiv” , said the ISW.
“Reports from Western officials and a video from a Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) officer indicate that Moscow is focused on conducting an orderly withdrawal and prioritizing the return of Russians to their homes before allowing forces by proxy to enter Russia rather than trying to maintain positions near the city.”
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Ukraine’s president said his country’s forces had also made progress in recapturing six towns or villages over the past day and that the Ukrainians were doing their “maximum” to drive out the invaders.
“No one today can predict how long this war will last,” Mr. Zelenskyy said.
The war will be over by the end of the year, says Ukraine
The comments come after Ukraine’s military intelligence chief told Sky News war with Russia is doing so well it will be over by the end of the year.
Major General Kyrylo Budanov also said a coup to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin was already underway and he was seriously suffering from cancer.
The 36-year-old explained that the “breaking point” would be in the second half of August and that Russia suffered “heavy squad losses”.
“We know everything about our enemy. We know his plans almost as they are hatched,” he said.