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Ukrainian police on Tuesday claimed to have uncovered a “torture chamber” in the formerly Russian-occupied town of Pisky-Radkivski in the eastern Kharkiv region.
Among the items found, according to police, was a container full of extracted gold teeth.
“After the liberation of the village of Pisky-Radkivski, local residents reported to the police that in the basement of one of the houses captives were kept – local residents, ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] soldiers and POWs from the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Serhiy Bolvinov, head of the investigation department of the National Police in the Kharkiv region, said in a statement on Facebook.
Bolvinov said that local residents heard constant screaming from the building.
“Investigators and prosecutors are working to establish all the facts that took place in this torture chamber,” he said.
The operator of the Nord Stream gas pipeline said Tuesday that it is “unable to inspect” the damage following gas leaks last week due to restrictions imposed by Swedish and Danish authorities.
The company – whose shareholders include Russian gas giant Gazprom and four European energy companies – said that according to the Swedish authorities, “a ban on shipping, anchoring, diving, using of underwater vehicles, geophysical mapping, etc. has been introduced to conduct a state investigation around the damage sites in the Baltic Sea.”
The processing time of the Nord Stream AG request for the survey may take more than 20 working days, the company said, citing Danish authorities.
And the ship that was going to investigate the damage hasn't been given permission to depart by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nord Stream AG said.
Some background: Last week, four leaks were discovered in the pipelines, near the Danish island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea. President Joe Biden on Friday called the leaks a “deliberate act of sabotage” and accused Russia and President Vladimir Putin of “pumping out disinformation and lies,” though he did not directly accuse Moscow of the leaks. Putin, for his part, claimed “Anglo-Saxons” were to blame for the explosions.
Ukrainian forces have pushed even further toward the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday.
“The Ukrainian army is making a rather fast and powerful advance in the south of our country in the course of the ongoing defensive operation,” Zelensky said in his evening address. “Dozens of settlements have already been liberated from the Russian pseudo-referendum this week alone.”
In the southern Kherson region, he said that the towns of Liubymivka, Khreshchenivka, Zolota Balka, Biliaiivka, Ukraiinka, Velyka, Mala Oleksandrivka and Davydiv Brid had all been liberated, “and this is not a complete list.”
“Our warriors do not stop. And it is only a matter of time when we will expel the occupier from all our land," he said.
Kherson is one of the four regions in Ukraine that Russia has claimed it is annexing in violation of international law.
US military aid to Ukraine is hastening the possibility of a “direct military clash” between Russia and NATO, a Russian diplomat said on Tuesday.
"The US continues to pump more weapons into Ukraine, facilitating the direct participation of its fighters and advisers in the conflict,” Konstantin Vorontsov, the head of the Russian delegation to the United Nations Disarmament Commission, said at the UN General Assembly’s First Committee.
“Not only does this prolong the fighting, but it also brings the situation closer to a dangerous line of a direct military clash between Russia and NATO," he added.
The diplomat's comments come as the US announced an additional $625 million in security assistance to Ukraine. In a statement Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited Ukrainian forces effectively using US support to push ahead with their “successful counter-offensive to take back their lands seized illegally by Russia.”
Ukraine intends to liberate all of the country’s territory, including Crimea which has been under Russian occupation since 2014, Mykhailo Podolyak, a key advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told CNN.
“We are for western values. We want to liberate all of our territory,” Podolyak said Tuesday. “All the threats by the Russian Federation will not stop Ukraine in order to liberate our territory ... including the occupied territories from back in 2014.”
He was unambiguous on Ukraine’s aims following successful counteroffensives in the east and in the south of the country.
“We are liberating cities and towns in all sorts of directions. In the south, in Kharkiv, in Luhansk. We will have to hold on to those territories,” Podolyak told CNN. “Using western weaponry our partners have sent to us, it has proven to be more effective than all Russian repertory that the Russian army is using.”
“All of this mobilization panic that Russia is demonstrating shows the Russian army does not have enough soldiers,” he said.
Podolyak was Ukraine’s lead negotiator in the last round of diplomatic negotiations between Ukraine and Russia earlier this year.
Ihor Murashov, the director general of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, will not continue his duties at the facility following his release from Russian detention, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tuesday.
Murashov was detained by a Russian patrol, the president of Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said on Saturday. Kotin said Murashov was in his vehicle on his way from the plant when he was stopped, taken out of the car, and driven in an unknown direction while blindfolded. The IAEA said Monday that it had received confirmation that Murashov had returned to his family safely.
“The IAEA understands that Mr Murashov is now with his family in territory controlled by Ukraine and will not be continuing with his duties at the ZNPP. It is not yet clear who will replace him in this role,” IAEA said in an updated statement on Tuesday.
The IAEA, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, said that Murashov’s “absence from duty in this way had an immediate and serious impact on decision-making in ensuring the safety and security of the plant.”
Key things to know about the plant: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear complex of its kind in Europe, was seized by Russian forces at the start of the war.
The plant and the area around it, including the nearby city of Enerhodar, have endured persistent shelling in recent months, with Ukraine and Russia trading accusations for the shelling.
The agency also said that “IAEA experts present at the ZNPP reported that repair work was completed today at the sprinkler pond in the area of Unit 5 and Unit 6, which had been damaged from shelling on 20 September.”
There has been no reported shelling in the vicinity of the ZNPP since Oct. 4, according to IAEA.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is due to travel to Kyiv and then to Moscow later this week for consultations “aimed at agreeing and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible.”
Russia is trying to establish a “state border” at the point that divides Russian and Ukrainian control in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, a regional Ukrainian official said on Tuesday.
The number of people crossing out of Russian-occupied territory through the Vasylivka checkpoint has dropped from several thousand per day last week — before Russia’s claimed annexations — to just a handful now, according to the Ukrainian government, which says that the crossing is effectively closed.
In establishing these borders, they are placing "rules to pass that they had come up with,” Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Authority, said on national television.
Zaporizhzhia is one four territories in Ukraine that Russia claims it is annexing.
“As a result, they are not allowing the men of the conscription age [to cross]. The day before yesterday only eight people managed to get out by some side and goat trails. Otherwise, one can say that transit in both directions has been stopped,” he said.
These actions replicate what Moscow "did with Crimea and Donbas,” Starukh said.
Ukraine is “trying to solve this issue through the international communities, and through addressing Russia, who are obliged to open the humanitarian corridors,” said Iryna Vereshchuk, the Ukrainian minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories.
The Kremlin does not appear to be clear on what territory exactly it has annexed, as large parts of the regions it says are Russia are still controlled by Ukrainian forces. On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, “we will continue consulting with the population of these regions.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that his country has been caught up in the Russia-Ukraine war but that it is not an active military party to the conflict.
“As for our participation in a special military operation in Ukraine, we are participating. We do not hide it. But we are not killing anyone. We are not sending our military anywhere. We do not violate our obligations,” Lukashenko said during a military meeting, according to a video recording of the meeting by the state news agency Belta. Russia also calls its war in Ukraine a "special military operation."
He then said that his country is “participating” in the war by preventing its spread into Belarus and by preventing “a strike on Belarus under the guise of a special military operation from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.”
“As I said, no one will shoot Russians in the back from the territory of Belarus. That’s our participation," the Belarusian leader said.
He added that Belarus is also caught up in the conflict as a point of entry for refugees.
“Yes, treat people if necessary. Yes, we feed people. And not only Russians. We feed most of all those refugees, beggars, poor people who come to us from Ukraine," Lukashenko said. "... How not to feed them, how not to treat them? This is our participation in this military operation. There is no other way and there won’t be.”
He stressed that Belarus is not planning to announce any mobilization but that it intends to learn from Russia’s experience.
Lukashenko has been a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and Belarus was used as a launch point for Russian troops in February.
The Belarusian leader has previously said his country was “being dragged” into the war.