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Moscow prevents access to POWs — UN

September 9, 2022

The UN's human rights mission in Ukraine has said both Russian and Ukrainian forces have abused prisoners of war. Meanwhile, a Russian airstrike struck a hospital in Ukraine's northeast. DW rounds up the latest.

Azovstal Regiment soldiers
Pictured are Azov Regiment forces, many of whom surrendered to Moscow following the capture of MariupolImage: Orlando Barría/Agencia EFE/IMAGO

The head of the UN's human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, said Friday that Russian forces were preventing international monitors from meeting Ukrainian prisoners of war.

"The Russian Federation has not provided access to prisoners of war held on its territory or in territory under its occupation," Bogner said.

"This is all the more worrying since we have documented that prisoners of war in the power of the Russian Federation and held by the Russian Federation's armed forces or by affiliated armed groups have suffered torture and ill-treatment," she said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian authorities did not have enough information to comment on Bogner's statement. 

"We do not know who approached the military and whether they did," he told a news briefing.

Bogner added that the mission had also documented cases of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war by Kyiv.

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on September 9

EU ministers back €5 billion loan to Ukraine

European Union finance ministers on Friday recommended providing a further €5 billion ($5 billion) in aid for Ukraine. "EU ministers ready to provide national guarantees to make €5 billion available in loans to Ukraine," EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis wrote on Twitter.

The sum proposed is part of an aid package worth €9 billion announced in May. The first €1 euros was fully sent in early August.

The European Commission proposed raising the sum on the capital markets, with interest and fees to be paid from the EU budget. The latest installment still requires the approval of the European Parliament, although this is seen as a formality.

Kharkiv hit by Russian rocket fire, 10 wounded — officials

Kharkiv's city center was hit by Russian rocket fire, wounding 10 people, regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that rockets hit a children's arts center and a school, as well as private homes.

Also on Friday, Russian state news agency Interfax cited Moscow's Defense Ministry as saying that Russian forces had destroyed a Ukrainian HIMARS rocket launcher vehicle in the Kharkiv region.

Ukraine's Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak claimed that the attack was revenge for reported Ukrainian gains in a counter-offensive in the northeastern region, which hosts Ukraine's second-largest city.

"For every success of Ukraine's armed forces, for every victory, Russians... answer with strikes on innocent people," Yermak said.

Meanwhile, Russian state television broadcast an interview that acknowledged that Ukraine had achieved a "substantial victory" on the battlefield.

"The very fact of a breach of our defences is already a substantial victory for the Ukrainian armed forces," Moscow-installed Kharkiv administration head Vitaly Ganchev said in an interview for the Russia-24 broadcaster.

Kyiv making gains of 'up to 10 kilometers' in Kharkiv region — German military expert

Andreas Schreiber, military expert at the German Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies, told DW that Kyiv's efforts in preparing for a counter-offensive were "paying off" and that gains of "up to 10 kilometers" seem to have been achieved.

"In fact, gains of up to 10 kilometers into the Russian lines seem to have been achieved there," Schreiber said, commenting on the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region.

"That's quite a lot if you take the Donbas as a point of comparison, where Russians sometimes fight for days and weeks for a few hundred meters," he said. "That's a real solid blow. And ultimately, in my view, it serves to disguise the main focal point of the Ukrainian offensive."

"It does in fact seem like Ukraine has now taken the military initiative," he said. "It seems like [Ukraine's] efforts are now paying off."

"I don't think that the Russians currently have many countermeasures against these Ukrainian efforts," he concluded. "Russia is increasingly having massive problems with generating personnel."

Reconstruction of Ukraine to cost nearly $350 billion — World Bank

Anna Bjerde, President of European and Central Asia at the World Bank, told DW that $349 billion (€347 billion) will be needed for recovery and reconstruction in Ukraine.

Priorities for reconstruction will be supporting the government of Ukraine in the delivery of essential services, including health, education and pensions, Bjerde said.

Recovery would also need to focus on helping Ukraine prepare for winter, specifically in providing sources of energy and heating and supporting industry and businesses.

She argued that although money for reconstruction will initially come from the international community, the private sector will also need to get involved.

Bjerde said that reconstruction will bring along opportunities for more energy efficiency in the country, and that Kyiv will require guidance in order to build back a modern economy.

Russian air strike hit hospital in Sumy region — Governor

Sumy regional Governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said that Russian forces had hit a hospital in an air strike.

The strike hit a hospital in the Velika Pysarivka district in the region's southeast, Sumy's governor said in a Telegram post. The district lies on Ukraine's border with Russia.

Zhyvytskyy said that the building was destroyed and people were wounded in the strike.

Russia warns West on gas price cap 

As the EU announced a price cap on Russian gas Wednesday, the Group of Seven major industrialized countries also wants to
impose an oil price cap that would deny insurance, finance and brokering to oil cargoes priced above a certain, yet unspecified amount. 

Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, argued that the price cap will backfire on Western countries.

"The collective West does not understand: the introduction of a cap on prices for Russian energy resources will lead to a slippery floor under its own feet," Zakharova said.

"What G7 state officials call a price 'ceiling' will become a price floor," Russian Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said.

"The global market is not limited to seven countries," he said.

EU energy ministers are meeting today for discussions on how to buffer businesses and consumers from soaring energy prices.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian state-owned company Naftogaz is suing the Russian gas company Gazprom for lost transit fees, Naftogaz CEO Yuriy Vitrenko wrote on Facebook.

The Russian company has transferred less money since reducing its gas flows as of May. However, the contract signed in 2019 stipulates a minimum transit volume in a clause, which must be paid regardless of the levels of gas actually transported.

Latvia decides to split Orthodox Church from Moscow

Latvia's parliament has decided to separate the country's Orthodox Church from the Russia-based Moscow Patriarchate.

According to media reports, 73 members of parliament voted in favor of the measure, with three votes against and one abstention.

President Egils Levits thanked the Parliament for supporting the Church's autocephaly, arguing that it was a "question of national security."

In the Eastern Orthodox church hierarchy, an autocephalous church is a body whose top bishop doesn't report to any higher-ranking bishop. Riga's metropolitan bishop traditionally reports to Russia's head bishop, known as the Patriarch of Moscow.

Eastern Orthodox Church membership is most common among the country's Russian minority. Traditionally, Latvian-speakers are mostly Lutheran, with a minority of Roman Catholics.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which represents a minority of Ukraine's Eastern Orthodox believers, also broke from Moscow in May following Patriarch Kirill's support for Russia's invasion.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is Ukraine's dominant church, was already autocephalous. The Moscow Patriarchate broke from the Constantinople Patriarchate based in Istanbul in 2018 over the latter's recognition of the Ukrainian church's independence.

More on the conflict in Ukraine on DW

Kyiv is trying to recapture the southern Kherson region, which borders the strategically important Crimean Peninsula, in a counter-offensive.

EU energy ministers are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels to tackle soaring energy prices amid Moscow's invasion.

Kyiv city life is beginning to see some semblance of normalcy as domestic tourists return, DW's Natalia Vlasenko reports.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the SPD this week criticzed former Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU government for implementing an energy policy that made Berlin more dependent on Russian fossil fuels.

German and Ukrainian art historians are teeming up to protect cultural assets.

sdi/wmr (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, KNA)