Ukraine updates: Ukraine struggles to identify suspected war criminals – USA TODAY

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Ukraine keeps pushing to hold Russia legally accountable as it documents atrocities in the monthslong invasion, having registered over 20,000 potential war crimes so far with Kyiv’s regional police exhuming over 1,300 bodies.

More than 300 people are still missing, Andrii Nebytov, head of the Kyiv regional police, told The Associated Press. “Concerning the exhumations, I am sure that we are far from finishing it,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Nebytov added: “This week we found a man who was executed with his hands tied behind his back and a hat over his head. The expert says that during the execution the man was on his knees.”

As of July, Ukrainian prosecutors have only identified 127 suspected war criminals, the prosecutor general’s office said. 15 of them are currently being held in Ukraine as prisoners of war.

Meanwhile, Russia has expanded its military goals in Ukraine from seizing control of the eastern Donbas region to regime change. Speaking to envoys at an Arab League summit in Cairo late Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is targeting the “absolutely unacceptable regime” of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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Latest developments

►Russian energy giant Gazprom said Monday that it would further reduce natural gas flows through a major pipeline to Europe to 20% of capacity, citing equipment repairs. The move ramps up fears that Russia may cut off gas as political leverage over the war in Ukraine just as Europe tries to shore up storage for winter.

Americans killed fighting for Ukraine identified by commander

Two American volunteers who died fighting for Ukraine were identified Monday by their commander. They are Luke “Skywalker” Lucyszyn, a medic from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Bryan Young, about whom no other information was available Monday.

The State Department confirmed Friday that two more Americans had died in Ukraine but did not release their names or any other details. Family and friends confirmed Lucyszyn, 31, was one of them. 

His commander, Ruslan Miroshnichenko, wrote on Facebook that Lucyszyn died July 18 in the Donbas region after getting knocked unconscious by an artillery strike and fatally shot by a Russian tank. Miroshnichenko also wrote that Young and two other soldiers were killed coming to Lucyszyn’s aid. He described Young as a “professional soldier.”

MAPPING AND TRACKING RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE: Latest visual explanations and annotated maps

Thousands of Ukrainians getting deported to Russia, intelligence assessment says 

Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are being detained and deported to Russia through so-called filtration operations, according to a newly declassified report from the National Intelligence Council, which provides analysis for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

“The filtration process includes temporary detention, data collection, interrogation, and in some cases abuse of detainees” at 18 or more processing centers, the document says.

It also highlights that detained Ukrainians are classified by risk level and put into one of three categories, all of which may include being forcefully sent to Russia. The most threatening ones, especially those with a military link, are likely kept in prisons in Russia and eastern Ukraine, “though little is known about their fates.”

The U.S. Department of State has called on Russia to halt these filtration operations, estimating they have resulted in the forced deportation of between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainians, including 260,000 children.

Contributing: The Associated Press