Russia’s armed forces are torturing prisoners of war and civilians in southern Ukraine, Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged Saturday.
The rights group said it carried out interviews with dozens of people in the occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, revealing 42 cases where Russian forces had either made civilians disappear or otherwise arbitrarily detained them.
Some had not had any contact with the outside world and many had been tortured.
HRW also documented the torture of three members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces who were POWs. Two of them died.
The non-profit agency said the purpose of the abuse seemed to be to obtain information and to instill fear so that people would accept the Russian occupation.
“Russian forces have turned occupied areas of southern Ukraine into an abyss of fear and wild lawlessness,” said Yulia Gorbunova, senior Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on July 23.
White House announces fresh military package for Ukraine
The United States has signed off on another $270 million (€264 million) in military aid to Ukraine.
The aid includes four new M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, taking to 20 the number of Himars delivered to Kyiv.
Ukraine has called the Himars, which can precisely strike targets within 80 kilometers (50 miles), a game-changer in countering Russia.
The Pentagon said Ukraine would also receive up to 580 Phoenix Ghosts — small and highly portable drones that detonate on their targets.
The latest aid also includes 36,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and four Command Post Vehicles, armored posts that can function as operations centers on the battlefield.
More than half of the aid comes from a $40 billion package for Ukraine approved by Congress in May.
Zelenskyy hails UN-brokered grain export deal
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed satisfaction with the deal signed with Russia allowing for the export of millions of tons of grain from his country’s Black Sea ports.
Russian forces blockaded Ukrainian ports during the first stage of February’s invasion, sparking soaring prices and food shortages in many parts of the world. The agreement means grain exports can start flowing again, alongside security checks on ships.
The individual points of the document signed in Istanbul on Friday were “fully in line with Ukraine’s interests,” Zelenskyy said in his Friday night video address.
“Now we can not only resume the work of our Black Sea ports, but also maintain the necessary protection for them,” Zelensky said.
The deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.
Lithuania lifts ban on Kaliningrad rail transit
Lithuania has lifted a ban on the rail transport of sanctioned goods in and out of Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, according to the RIA news agency.
Last week, the European Union said that the transit ban only affected road transit.
The Kaliningrad region borders Poland and Lithuania and relies on the import of goods from the rest of Russia through EU territory.
Lithuania stopped Russia from sending sanctioned goods via rail to Kaliningrad in June.
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Germany hosts around 900,000 Ukrainian refugees. Despite the improved security situation around Kyiv and the West, many are reticent about returning home.
mm/jcg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
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