Chris Lange, FISM News
Ukrainian officials on Sunday reported the discovery of a torture chamber in a newly-liberated village in the Kharkiv region where Russian troops allegedly abused detainees.
In a basement behind the local supermarket in Kozacha Lopan near the Russian border where Ukrainian captives were subjected to interrogation by a Kremlin-appointed police force, local authorities said they found implements of torture, including tools for electric shock, the Associated Press reported. Kozacha Lopan is one of the settlements recaptured by Kyiv forces in a swift and powerful counteroffensive that forced Russian soldiers to abandon their posts and equipment in several villages in retreat. Authorities said they found the devices, along with cigarette butts and filthy bedding, in the dank cellar fashioned with metal bars where two buckets served as toilets.
Ukrainian prosecutors released images showing military TA-57 telephones transformed into a shock device with additional wires where alligator clips were attached and accused the Russian military of using the phones as a power source for electric torture.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that more than 10 “torture chambers” had been uncovered in the region in recent days following the hasty withdrawal of Russian troops.
“There is already clear evidence of torture, humiliating treatment of people,” Zelenskyy said in a Friday statement. “Moreover, there is evidence that Russian soldiers, whose positions were not far from this place, shot at the buried just for fun.” He also vowed that Ukrainian forces would not let up in their counter-offensive.
“Perhaps it seems to some of you that after a series of victories we now have a lull of sorts,” he said in a nightly address. “But there will be no lull. There is preparation for the next series … For Ukraine must be free. All of it.”
Russia steps up civilian attacks following punishing counteroffensive
Displaced Ukrainians from the northeastern area retaken by Kyiv’s advance earlier this month returned home to search for their dead as Moscow stepped up air and artillery strikes on targets throughout Ukraine’s east.
Five civilians were reported killed in Russian strikes in the eastern Donetsk region this weekend, while Nikopol officials said dozens of residential buildings, gas pipelines, and power lines were hit on Sunday.
Britain’s defense ministry said in a Sunday intelligence update that Russian strikes at civilian infrastructure, including a power grid and a dam, had intensified.
“As it faces setbacks on the front lines, Russia has likely extended the locations it is prepared to strike in an attempt to directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government,” the ministry said.
“The war is not going too well for Russia right now, so it’s incumbent upon all of us to maintain high states of readiness, alert,” U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned while visiting a base in an undisclosed location in Poland, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Friday declaration that he would escalate Moscow’s use of force against Ukraine if Kyiv put his military under additional pressure renewed concerns that a desperate Putin could unleash nuclear weapons or engage in chemical warfare in Ukraine.
Asked about these concerns, President Biden said that the use of such weapons “…would change the face of war unlike anything since World War Two” during a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday.
Some military experts warned that Russia may resort to staging a nuclear incident at the Kremlin-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station. Indeed, Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, said Monday that a Russian missile struck within 328 yards of the plant but that it did not damage its reactors, though it did damage nearby buildings, according to a Voice of America report.