Ukraine Says Hundreds of Settlements Freed as Russian Airstrikes Continue

Ukraine’s military has recaptured more than 600 settlements from Russian forces over the past month, according to the country’s Ministry for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories, as Russian forces continued to strike dozens of Ukraine’s cities, killing a number of civilians.

Some 502 settlements have been liberated in the northeast Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian forces last month advanced deep into Russian lines and 75 localities were recaptured in the highly strategic Kherson region, the ministry said late Thursday.

The ministry said 43 settlements were liberated in the Donetsk region and seven in the Luhansk region.

“The area of liberated Ukrainian territories has increased significantly,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The report could not be independently verified.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily address Thursday night, “Russia is sending thousands of its mobilized men to the front. They have no significant military training, but their command does not need it at all. They expect that the mobilized Russians will be able to survive in the war for at least a few weeks, then they will die, and then new ones will be sent to the front. But during this time, such use by Russian generals of their people as ‘cannon fodder’ makes it possible to create additional pressure on our defenders.”

Zelenskyy said Ukraine would “create a special tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine and ensure the operation of a special compensation mechanism so that Russia will bear responsibility for this war at the cost of its assets.

Zelenskyy called on Ukrainians to be especially careful about more possible Russian strikes on October 14, when the country marks the Day of Defenders of Ukraine.

“Tomorrow we will definitely celebrate — everyone in their place — one of our most important days. Protection Day, Day of Defenders of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.

He also criticized the International Committee of the Red Cross, accusing it of inaction in upholding the rights of Ukrainian prisoners of war, and he urged it to undertake a mission to Olenivka — a notorious camp in the Russian-occupied east of the country where dozens of Ukrainian POWs died in an explosion and fire in July.

“The Red Cross has obligations, primarily of a moral nature. The mandate of the Red Cross must be fulfilled. It is necessary to immediately do what is entirely logical for the Red Cross,” said Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

On October 13, Russian missiles and drones that targeted dozens of Ukrainian cities and towns for a fourth day in a row killed five people in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolayiv, officials said.

Civilians in the Russia-occupied Kherson region of Ukraine are expected to start evacuating Friday for Russia. The move is an indication that Ukraine’s forces are advancing closer to the illegally annexed region.

Volodymyr Saldo, the region’s Russian-appointed leader, asked Russia Thursday for evacuation assistance. The first evacuees are expected to arrive in eastern Russia Friday.

“In the last three days, pro-Russian forces have made tactical advances towards the center of the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast,” Britain’s defense ministry said in an intelligence update posted to Twitter Friday about Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Elements of 2nd Army Corps, the pro-Russia militia of the Luhansk region, likely advanced into the villages of Opytine and lvangrad to the south of the town,” the update said. “There have been few, if any, other settlements seized by regular Russian or separatist forces since early July.”

“However,” the report said, “forces led by the private military company Wagner Group have achieved some localized gains in the Donbas: Wagner likely remains heavily involved in the Bakhmut fighting.”

“Russia likely views seizing Bakhmut as a preliminary to advancing on the Kramatorsk-Sloviansk urban area, which is the most significant population center of Donetsk Oblast held by Ukraine,” the intelligence update said.

While Russia continues to pursue “offensive operations in central Donbas and is very slowly making progress,” the update said, the Russian campaign is “undermined by the Ukrainian pressure against its northern and southern flanks, and by severe shortages of munitions and manpower.”

Some information in this report came from RFE/RL and The Associated Press.

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