Russia's Defence Ministry has once again accused Ukraine of false claims regarding the actions of Russian soldiers, this time in Irpin, next to the city of Kyiv in northern Ukraine.
As it did in the past with the atrocities committed in Bucha by Russian soldiers — the Kremlin categorically rejected accusations that Russian forces were responsible for killing civilians in Bucha, despite satellite imagery providing evidence to the contrary — the Defence Ministry argued that Ukraine is once again preparing false accusations.
"According to confirmed reports, the Kyiv nationalist regime is preparing another provocation to accuse Russia of allegedly massacring civilians in Irpin," the representative of the Russian Ministry of Defence, Igor Konashenkov, claimed, in what seems to be an attempt to cover up war crimes again.
He added that the units of the Russian Armed Forces supposedly "left the town more than a week ago."
The remarkable statement read that the Security Service of Ukraine will now "bring the bodies of local residents killed by Ukrainian artillery shelling from the morgue of the town hospital on Polevaya Street to the basement of a building on the eastern outskirts of Irpin," and that it will then stage the "destruction by Russian reconnaissance group."
"This cynical staged action is organised for later distribution of the video footage through the Western media," he added.
A similar story-line was adopted by the Russians after photos and videos surfaced of the war crimes committed by soldiers in Bucha last week, which the Russian Ministry of Defence dismissed as a staged massacre, adding that Russian troops "had not been present for a week," claims that were soon proved wrong by The New York Times.
While Russian troops have withdrawn from northern Ukraine, cities in eastern and southern Ukraine continue to be shelled. Russia on Saturday morning confirmed new attacks on Dnipro and Poltava in central Ukraine, while troops are reportedly surrounding Kharkiv in the northeast of the country.
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During the night of Friday to Saturday, missiles destroyed a large ammunition depot of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Dnipro, while a depot with aerial warfare equipment was destroyed at Mirgorod military airfield, in the Poltava region, according to the Russian Air Defence Ministry.
Meanwhile, at least 6,000 Russian soldiers have already descended on Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. According to the US Defense Department, the Russians hope to mobilise some 60,000 troops to capture the city as part of the strategy to focus on the Donbas region after the losses around Kyiv.
"This will be a knife fight," a US defence official said. "This could be very bloody and very ugly," adding that although the Russians are limiting their geographic aims, "they still have a lot of combat power available. This could go on for a long time."
On Saturday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced that Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement on ten different humanitarian corridors for citizens in occupied Ukrainian cities, including from the heavily besieged Mariupol in the Donetsk region.
The corridors were to be opened today and will not be closed again until Sunday evening.