President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged Friday that Russian troops were leaving mines behind, including in dead bodies, while retreating from the northern region of Ukraine. Photo courtesy Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook
April 1 (UPI) -- President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged Friday that Russian troops were leaving mines behind, including in dead bodies, while retreating from the northern region of Ukraine.
Zelensky, speaking in his nightly video message, warned citizens returning to areas where Ukrainian forces have regained control to be "very careful" of further dangers including the possibility of renewed shelling.
"The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country. The withdrawal is slow but noticeable," Zelensky said.
"Firstly, the bombing may continue. Secondly, they are mining all this territory. Mining houses, equipment, even the bodies of killed people. Too many tripwire mines, too many other dangers."
Zelensky also threatened consequences for people in the country who cooperate with temporary local leaders installed by Russian forces who are allegedly threatening businesses and local officials into assisting them.
"There will be problems for cooperation with them or with the occupiers directly. This is the last warning," Zelensky said.
Zelensky referred to such Russian-appointed officials as "gauleiters," a term use for regional leaders in Nazi Germany. He did not specify what such consequences would entail.
"In the east of our country, the situation remains extremely difficult. The Russian militaries are being accumulated in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction," Zelensky said. "They are preparing for new powerful blows. We are preparing for even more active defense."
He said that Ukraine anticipates that "hard battles lie ahead" and urged Russians to resist conscription, or compulsory enlistment.
"We don't need more dead people here. Save your children so that they do not become villains. Don't send them to the army. Do whatever you can to keep them alive," Zelensky said. "The Russians won't be told the whole truth about this conscription and about the fate of the conscripts. But still, if you can convey the truth to them -- do it."
Zelensky also said that humanitarian corridors worked in three regions, allowing for 6,266 people to be rescued from the Donbas region and Zaporizhzhia. Donbas is comprised of the provinces Luhansk and Donetsk, which have largely been held by pro-Russian separatists since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Zelensky also said that 3,071 people were rescued from the besieged city of Mariupol even after the International Committee of the Red Cross, the humanitarian aid group, said in a statement that it had to turn back from the city.
"Today, our team tried to facilitate a safe passage out of Mariupol. But had to return to Zaporizhzhia after conditions made it impossible to proceed," the statement reads. "We will try again tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Russia said Friday that Ukraine had flown two attack helicopters across the border into Belgorod and destroyed a fuel dump with rockets.
The British Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update afterward that explosions were also reported at an ammunition depot near the city.
"The probable loss of fuel and ammunition supplies from these depots will likely add additional short-term strain to Russia's already stretched logistic chains," the British Ministry of Defense said.
The British Ministry of Defense said that supplies to Russian forces encircling Kharkhiv, the city in Ukraine about 37 miles from Belgorod, "may be particularly affected."