By Max Hunder and Pavel Polityuk
ODESA, Ukraine/KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s military said on Saturday it killed dozens of Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition dumps during fighting in the Kherson region, at the center of Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the south and a key link in the Moscow region. power lines.
Rail traffic to Kherson via the Dnipro River has been cut off, the Southern Military Command said, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and to the east.
Ukraine has used long-range missile systems supplied by the West to severely damage three bridges over the Dnipro in recent weeks, cutting off the city of Kherson and – according to the assessment of British defense officials – leaving the 49th Russian army stationed on the highly vulnerable west bank of the river.
“Due to the fire that established control of the main transport links in occupied territory, it was established that traffic on the railway bridge crossing the Dnipro is not possible,” the southern command of the ISIS said. Ukraine in a statement.
He said more than 100 Russian troops and seven tanks were destroyed in Friday’s fighting in the Kherson region, the first major city captured by the Russians after their Feb. 24 invasion.
The first deputy head of the Kherson regional council, Yuri Sobolevsky, told residents to stay away from Russian munitions dumps.
“The Ukrainian army is unleashed against the Russians and this is only the beginning,” he wrote on Telegram.
The pro-Ukrainian governor of the Kherson region, Dmytro Butriy, said the Berislav district was particularly affected. Berislav is across the river northwest of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station.
“In some villages, not a single house has been left intact, all the infrastructure has been destroyed, people live in cellars,” he wrote on the Telegram app.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports, and officials from the Russian-appointed administration that rules the Kherson region earlier this week dismissed Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation.
The two sides also swapped charges on Friday over a missile strike or explosion that appears to have killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the eastern province of Donetsk.
Forty prisoners were killed and 75 injured in the prison in the front town of Olenivka held by Moscow-backed separatists, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Some of the deaths were confirmed by Reuters reporters at the prison.
A spokesman for the separatists put the death toll at 53 and accused Kyiv of targeting the prison with US-made HIMARS rockets.
Ukraine’s armed forces have denied responsibility, saying Russian artillery targeted the prison to hide the mistreatment of those held there. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia had committed a war crime and called for international condemnation.
Reuters could not immediately verify the different versions of events.
Reuters TV showed the remains of a burned-out cavernous building filled with metal beds, some with charred bodies lying on them while other bodies were lined up on military stretchers or on the ground outside.
Shell fragments had been laid out on a bench of blue metal. It was not possible to immediately detect any identifying marks and it was unclear where the fragments had been collected.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was seeking access to the site and offered to help evacuate the injured.
Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities and brutalities against civilians since its invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia denies targeting civilians.
A UN-brokered deal to restart the shipment of grain from Ukraine and ease a global food crisis was discussed by senior diplomats from the United States and Russia on Friday in their first phone call since before the start. of the invasion of its neighbor by Russia on February 24.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Washington is not keeping its promises on exempting food from sanctions, the Foreign Ministry said.
A Russian Foreign Ministry account of the phone call quoted Lavrov as telling Blinken that Russia would achieve all of its “special military operation” goals, and said Western arms deliveries to Ukraine would only prolong the conflict.
Blinken warned Lavrov of any Russian territorial claims during his war in Ukraine.
“The world will not recognize the annexations. We will impose significant additional costs on Russia if it goes ahead with its plans,” he said.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Stephen Coates; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)