By Jacob Geanous
March 25, 2023
New York Post
Russian President Vladimir Putin planned a “total cleansing” of Ukraine with “house-to-house terror” to subdue its people, leaked spy documents reportedly show. Chilling emails from within Russia’s FSB intelligence service talk about orders “from the very top” for civilians to be taken to concentration camps in a bid to conquer Ukraine. The emails were leaked by a source within the FSB to Russian human rights activist Vladimir Osechkin, who founded Gulagu, a website that highlights the conditions in the country’s prison system, the US Sun reported. The leak comes a week after the International Criminal Court charged Putin with war crimes on charges related to an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said that there have been over 16,000 forced deportations carried out by Russia. The revelations came as Russian troops appeared to refocus their efforts in eastern Ukraine. Moscow’s months-long push for the key Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has stalled, despite the leader of the Russian Wagner mercenary group’s claims that the city was surrounded on three sides in early March.
Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said that the fight for Bakhmut is “stabilizing” and his troops’ “titanic efforts” have thus far held back Moscow’s forces.
Zaluzhnyi said his statement posted to Facebook on Friday came after he spoke with the Chief of Defense Staff of the United Kingdom, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, about strengthening Ukraine’s air defenses.
The UK Ministry of Defense said Saturday that Russia’s assault on Bakhmut has “largely stalled” and added that Moscow had probably shifted focus to the north and south of Bakhmut, which saw heavy fighting on Friday.
The agency’s daily intelligence update said the move suggests an “overall return to a more defensive operational design” after Russia’s bloody efforts to take Bakhmut failed. Ukraine is now signaling a counteroffensive to take back territory lost to Moscow’s forces.
Ukrainian Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said that the Wagner mercenaries trying to take Bakhmut are losing “considerable strength” and “very soon” his forces would take advantage of that “opportunity.” The Wagner Group is so desperate for fighters, it is recruiting on Pornhub.
In other parts of the country, at least 10 civilians were killed and 20 were injured Friday by a Russian bombardment of long-range missiles, the Guardian reported. Two of the people killed died in the town of Bilopillia in the Sumy province north of Bakhmut, Zelensky’s office said.
Earlier in the week, a person was killed by shelling in Zaporizhzhia and at least eight others were killed near a student dormitory close to Kyiv. “Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” Zelensky wrote in a Telegram post accompanied by a video showing what he said was a Russian missile striking a nine-story apartment building in Zaporizhzhia. “Residential areas where ordinary people and children live are being fired at.”
While Russia continues to bombard Ukraine, Moscow has been seeking to bolster its fighting forces. The Kremlin has launched a recruitment campaign in hopes of signing up as many as 400,000 new soldiers this year to replenish its dwindling ranks, Bloomberg reported. The mobilization campaign would allow Moscow to avoid using its reservists after the decision to do so last fall triggered fears and led to millions of Russians leaving the country in a mass exodus.