Ukraine has collected hundreds of dead Russian soldiers and are storing their bodies in a refrigerated train to send them back to their families.
The soldiers have been taken from across the Kiev region, the northern city of Chernihiv and a number of other areas to a railway yard just outside Ukraine’s capital, said Volodymyr Lyamzin, the country’s chief civil-military liaison officer.
While there are no reliable estimates of the number of Russian troops killed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed that 27,000 soldiers have been killed since the start of the war.
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People wearing protective suits from head to toe were seen lifting body bags into the compartments.
Mr Lyamzin added that more refrigerated trains were stationed in other regions of the country and used for the same purpose.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Anton Garashenko said there were more than 250 dead soldiers in the cars and claimed Russia is “still not collecting the bodies”.
It comes as Ukraine claimed Russian troops had withdrawn from its second-largest city after weeks of heavy bombing.
Kharkiv was a prime target for Moscow after it took control of the east of the country, called the Donbas, after failing to take Kiev.
However, the troops struggle to gain ground.
“The Russians haven’t made many tactical gains lately,” said a Western official, who described the war’s front lines as “oscillating.”
“The Ukrainians continue to launch counter-attacks, especially around Kherson and Kharkiv. We expect this to culminate in a long war of attrition,” added the official, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Other important developments:
• President Zelensky says in talks with Russia to get injured defenders out of Azovstal plant in Mariupol
were “very complex”
• G7 foreign ministers pledge to continue to exert economic pressure on Russia and supply arms to Ukraine
• Russian fighter jets participated in exercises in the Baltic Sea, Interfax reported
• Russia says it will take appropriate precautions if NATO deploys nuclear weapons and infrastructure close to its border
Ukraine ‘won’ battle for Kharkiv
Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces withdrew from Kharkov and concentrated on guarding supply routes while launching mortars, artillery and air strikes on the eastern region of Donetsk.
According to the American think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the move indicates that Ukraine has likely won the Battle of Kharkov.
It added that in recent days Russian units have “generally not tried to hold out” against the counterattack by Ukrainian forces.
“Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone taking Kharkiv, and then expelled them from all over the city, as they did with Russian forces trying to capture Kiev,” the ISW said.
“Reports from Western officials and a video by an officer of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) indicate that Moscow is focused on conducting an orderly withdrawal and is prioritizing getting Russians back home before proxy forces enter Russia instead.” of trying his positions near the city.”
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The Ukrainian president said his country’s troops also made progress in the past day in retaking six towns or villages and that the Ukrainians were doing their “maximum” to drive out the invaders.
“No one can predict today how long this war will last,” Zelenskyy said.
War will be over by year’s end, Ukraine claims
The comments come after the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told Sky News the war with Russia is doing so well that it will be over by the end of the year†
Major General Kyrylo Budanov also said a coup to remove Russian President Vladimir Putin is already underway and that he is seriously ill with cancer.
The 36-year-old explained that the “breaking point” will be in the second half of August and that Russia has suffered “heavy manpower losses”.
“We know all about our enemy. We know about their plans almost as they are made,” he said.