Ukrainian mayor announces hunt for ‘collaborators’
The city of Izyum, which fell under the control of Ukrainian forces last week, is about to see “cleanup” operations by the Ukrainian military, its mayor, Valery Marchenko, told the BBC on Monday.
During this operation, Ukrainian soldiers will search for Russian soldiers who could have potentially remained in the city, as well as those they call “collaborators,” Marchenko added.
“The military are doing the cleanup [by] going around the city and looking for enemy soldiers that [could have been] hiding in private houses,” the mayor explained.
After they finish with the “cleanup,” the mayor elaborated, Kiev's forces will “look for collaborators.” These efforts might take up to ten days, he predicted. After that, civilians who fled the city will be allowed to return, according to Marchenko.
Last week, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations said it would conduct similar operations in Balakleya, another town in Kharkov Region that has recently been retaken by Kiev’s forces.
According to Marchenko, at least 1,000 Izyum residents died “as a result of military action” in the city and “even more” perished due to the lack of medical assistance. He did not blame any specific deaths on any side of the conflict but slammed Russia for “bombing” and “destroying” the city.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.