Last Russian-Ukrainian war: the withdrawal of Russian troops is “noticeable”, according to Zelenskiy; exchange of captured soldiers reported – live | world news

Hello, this is Helen Davidson bringing you the next few hours of updates on the conflict in Ukraine.

In the past hour, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy released a video statement. Speaking from what looks like a conference room, with a screen displaying the Ukrainian flag behind him, he leveled new war crimes charges against Russia, saying it was trying to conscript Crimeans into the forces armies to fight.

In the video, Zelenskiy said Russian forces were retreating from northern Ukraine, in a “slow but noticeable” fashion, sometimes expelled by Ukrainian forces but other times leaving on their own.

“After them there remains a complete disaster and many dangers, it is true,” he said, adding that the bombs can continue and the Russians mined the area as they left, including houses, equipment and the bodies of those left behind.

“Anyone coming back to this area should be very careful,” he said. It is still impossible to resume normal life as it was… Wait until our land is cleared, wait to be assured that a new bombardment is impossible.

Zelenskiy said Russian forces were massing in Donbass, towards Kharkiv and “prepared for even more powerful blows”.

He noted the start of conscription season in Russia, saying this year was “guaranteed death for many young people.”

He sent the men and their families a warning: “We don’t need more deaths here. Save your children so they don’t become bad guys. Don’t send them to the army. Do whatever you can to keep them alive. Keep them at home.

He accused Russia of trying to bring people from Crimea into the army, which he said was a violation of humanitarian law, and called for new sanctions in response. He urged the people of Crimea to refuse, but if they could not, to surrender to the Ukrainian army “at the first opportunity”.

“We will understand everything. You will live, he said.

Separately, he said Russia had installed “temporary rulers” in parts of southern Ukraine who threatened company employees and authorities to cooperate. Zelenskiy warned of problems “for anyone who becomes one of these leaders, whom he called” collaborators.

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