Ukrainian forces also continue Launch a counterattack against the Russian army Reclaiming conquered territories in the northeast, Russian President Vladimir Putin increased his military buildup and rhetoric against Ukrainian officials.
ABC News reporter Tom Sophie Burridge, who is in Kharkiv, spoke to ABC News’I start hereWednesday for the latest news.
Start here: Ukraine continues to push Russia from some of its strongholds… And we’re just beginning to see what life was like for the residents there, right?
Tom Sophie Bridge: Yeah, exactly. We have been to areas of newly liberated territory. It took us about three hours to drive there from the city of Kharkiv to the southeast of here. And we went to a town called Izeum, and it might be a name that’s going on record with people now. In the woods, next to the city, we visited what is a newly discovered mass burial site and what the Ukrainian authorities are doing now for the past few days, we watched them work [with] Forensic teams in their white clothes. I mean, carefully dig into the ground, in some kind of sandy ground beneath this pine forest to dig up these bodies and remove them from the ground, [and] We exhume them so they can identify the victims.
Now, I think what people might not realize about this when they saw this kind of headline is that some people in this forest died of natural causes. Now, they may have died prematurely due to lack of food and lack of water [and] The shortage of medicines in these lands occupied by Russia during the war. Even more disturbing, I think, is that some of the victims being taken out of the ground, according to Ukrainian officials, show signs of torture.
We also met a guy named Sergey who still lives in Izyum. We met him near his apartment, which was destroyed by a Russian missile strike. More than 40 of his friends and neighbors were killed during that attack and most of them are now buried at this burial site in the woods.
We met relatives who went up to those graves. They are going there to try to find relatives to try to locate their relatives. And in fact we met one lady who had a piece of paper and she had her husband’s grave number. I knew where he is. He was killed in an air raid or Russian bombing, but she had two numbers for her mother-in-law. She had no idea which of the two counted graves was the correct one for her mother-in-law.
Start here: Well, then I thought of these towns that have been under Russian control for months now, not weeks, but months. Does that help us explain what happened in the last 24 hours? Because I heard that Russia is now organizing referendums in some of the enclaves of Ukraine that they control. And these referendums will be like voting, like Do you want to be part of Russia? Which I was going to say is, like, duh, this could be a sham election. I am sure that Russia will say, “Yes, everyone wants to become Russian now” – this does not mean that it is true. So, why was this ad such a big deal?
Berg: I think it’s a huge deal because I’m pretty sure it won’t be free and fair. This would not be an internationally recognized vote. In the White House and the Pentagon [they] They say it’s a hoax. And I think most people around the Western world would agree with that.
And now we see Russia actually saying, “Well, we’ll say that all those lands under our control in the south and east are actually Russian possessions. And we’ll formally realize that this is Russian land.” The possibility is that if Ukraine with Western-supplied weapons attacks those territories, Russia may try to claim that this is a direct attack on Russia. And you get more.
Start here: Now suddenly the response is as if they had attacked St Petersburg or a border town in Russia. This is how they will react.
Berg: Now, that, I think, is the principle they put in their speech. Now, obviously, I think some analysts are already saying, OK, wait a minute. In fact, you hear this from American officials already. They say, “That’s cool by the Russians. This is part of their information game.”
They are trying to raise the stakes. Putin on the ropes. It weakened him significantly after he lost vast tracts of land in the north-east of Ukraine, near Kharkiv, where we are. He is in trouble. It has become increasingly isolated internationally. In recent days it has been really fun at home. Hard to read back in Russia. We don’t know what public opinion looks like.
The media is very controlled. No freedom of expression, etc. For example, a star Russian singer recently appeared on Instagram and mainly, and for the first time really came out against the war. And that’s a number that’s very popular among generations, like someone who really extends to the older generations as well, who are traditionally somewhat of a Putin fan. So Putin is in trouble and he’s in trouble and now he’s coming up with these kinds of tactics to increase the stakes on the battlefield. And it looks like a bit of a dangerous moment.
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