Russia-Ukraine war news today: Mass graves discovered in Kharkiv as Zelensky warns of nuclear disaster ‘worse than Chernobyl’

Izium left decimated as Ukraine retakes city from Russian forces

Mass graves of more than 400 unmarked burials have been found in the Izium city of Kharkiv by officials in Ukraine, just days after the country’s troops liberated the captured city from Russian soldiers, leading to their exit from the war-battered region.

“Mass graves are being discovered in Izium after liberation from the russcists. The current largest burial sights has 440 unmarked graves,” Ukrainian defence ministry said early today.

Volodymyr Zelensky said that the officials have initiated the necessary procedural actions and “more information – clear, verified – should be available tomorrow”.

The wartime president also warned of a radiation disaster “worse than even Chernobyl” and said that the world remained on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe as long as the Russian soldiers remained stationed at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he understood his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s concerns about the crisis brewing in Europe, in a first indication of friction with Beijing over the war in Ukraine.

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Izium left decimated as Ukraine retakes city from Russian forces

Izium left decimated as Ukraine retakes city from Russian forces

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Putin tells Xi he understands China has ‘questions and concerns’ over Ukraine war

Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he understood that Xi Jinping had questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine but praised China’s leader for what he said was a “balanced” position on the conflict, reports Reuters.

At their first face-to-face meeting since the war, Xi said he was very happy to meet “my old friend” again after Putin said US attempts to create a unipolar world would fail.

“We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis,” Putin told Xi, whom he addressed as “Dear Comrade Xi Jinping, dear friend”.

“We understand your questions and concern about this. During today’s meeting, we will of course explain our position, we will explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have talked about this before.”

Putin’s first remarks about Chinese concern over the war come just days after a lightning rout of his forces in north-eastern Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later told reporters that the talks behind closed doors had been excellent.

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Russian prisoners being pitched for war in Ukraine amid heavy losses – British MoD

The Russian private military company Wagner group is carrying out a campaign to deploy convicts and prisoners in Russia’s jails since at least July this year, the British defence ministry said in an intelligence update today.

“Kremlin-linked Russian private military company Wagner Group has been conducting a campaign to recruit Russian convicts for service in Ukraine since at least July. Prisoners have been offered commutation of their sentences as well as cash incentives,” the ministry said.

It added that this offer by Russia has been reinvigorated and a recently posted video likely showed Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin “making a recruitment pitch to prisoners”.

In the video, Prigozhin emphasises that he is only seeking ‘fighters for assault units’, the ministry claimed.

It added that the Russian military academies are shortening training courses and bringing cadets graduation dates forward.

“This is almost certainly so cadets can be deployed to support the Ukraine operation. The impact of Russia’s manpower challenge has become increasingly severe,” the British MoD said.

“The acceleration of officer cadets’ training, and Wagner’s demand for assault troops suggests that two of the most critical shortages within the military manning crisis are probably combat infantry and junior commanders,” it added.

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Pope says ‘morally legitimate’ to supply weapons to Ukraine

Pope Francis said it was morally legitimate for countries backing Ukraine to supply weapons to Ukraine to help the country against the Russian invasion.

“This is a political decision which it can be moral, morally acceptable, if it is done under conditions of morality,” the Pope told reporters while travelling from a trip to Kazakhstan.

He also urged the Kyiv government to be open to eventual dialogue, even though it may “smell” because it would be difficult for the Ukrainian side.

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World on brink of radiation disaster worse than Chernobyl – Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky warned of a nuclear catastrophe worse than Chernobyl if the Russian soldiers stay stationed at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

“As long as Russian soldiers remain at the nuclear power plant, the world remains on the brink of a radiation disaster – worse than even Chernobyl,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address yesterday.

He pressed for “the joint responsibility of everyone in Europe and the world to remove the Russian presence from the territory” of the nuclear power plant.

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Mass grave containing 440 bodies found in Kharkiv’s city – officials

Officials in Ukraine found a mass grave containing 440 bodies in the northeastern town of Izium that was recaptured from Russian soldiers, Ukrainian defence ministry said early today.

“Mass graves are being discovered in Izium after liberation from the russcists. The current largest burial sights has 440 unmarked graves,” the ministry said in a tweet, sharing the photos from site where marked graves are seen.

Volodymyr Zelensky said that the “necessary procedural actions have already begun there.”

“More information – clear, verified – should be available tomorrow,” he said, the ministry added.

Thousands of Russian troops were ousted from Izium last weekend after occupying the city and using it as a logistics hub in the Kharkiv region. They left behind large amounts of ammunition and equipment.

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Good morning, welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war for Friday, 16 September.

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