Ukraine raises flag above recaptured towns as Zelenskyy condemns Russia over dam attack

President takes part in a ceremony in front of a charred city council building in Izium

Ukrainian servicemen drive on top of a tank in the recently retaken area of Izium. AP
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy watched as the country’s flag was raised once again in a newly-liberated city in Kharkiv, before denouncing Russia over an attack on a dam with “no military value”.

The president visited Izium on Wednesday, taking part in a flag-raising ceremony in front of a charred city council building.

Speaking later in a video address, he said there were reports of murder, torture, and abductions emerging from the city, which was until four days ago occupied by Russia.

“Our law enforcers are already receiving evidence of murder, torture, and abductions of people by the occupiers,” he said. There was “evidence of genocide against Ukrainians”, he said.

“They only destroyed, only seized, only deported. They left devastated villages, and in some of them there is not a single surviving house.”

On Wednesday, a dam in Kryvyi Rih, the largest city in central Ukraine, was hit by eight cruise missiles.

The strikes hit the Karachunov reservoir dam, Mr Zelenskyy said in a video address released early on Thursday.

The water system had “no military value” and hundreds of thousands of civilians depend on it daily, he said.

Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the Krivyi Rih military administration, said in a Telegram post that 112 homes were flooded but work to repair the dam on the Inhulets river was under way and “flooding was receding”.

Russian forces have suffered a stunning reversal since the start of the month following a Ukrainian offensive, which has seen troops retake vast swathes of territory.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said Ukrainian forces are continuing to to consolidate their control of newly liberated areas of Kharkiv.

“Russian forces have largely withdrawn from the area west of the Oskil River,” it said.

“The way in which Russian forces have withdrawn in the last week has varied. Some units retreated in relatively good order and under control, while others fled in apparent panic.”

Some retreating troops abandoned high-value equipment, it said.

“Such abandonment highlights the disorganised retreat of some Russian units and likely localised breakdowns in command and control,” the briefing said.

Western politicians and military officials have said it is too early to tell whether Ukraine's recent success marked a turning point because Russia had yet to fully respond.

“We should avoid euphoria. There is still a lot of work to be done to liberate our lands, and Russia has a large number of weapons,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the national security and defence council in Ukraine, said in an online post.

Mr Zelenskyy was involved in a car accident on Wednesday in the country's capital following his return from Kharkiv.

His spokesman Serhii Nykyforov did not specify when the accident took place but said the president's vehicle had collided with a private car.

“The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found,” Mr Nykyforov said in a Facebook post.

The accident will be investigated, he said.

Updated: September 15, 2022, 9:47 AM