Ukraine: Mass graves can be shown via satellite images


New satellite images show what appear to be mass graves near Mariupol, and local officials accuse Russia of burying up to 9,000 Ukrainian civilians there in an attempt to conceal the carnage that took place during the invasion. besiege the port city.

The images emerged on Thursday, just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in the battle for Mariupol, despite the presence of some 2,000 Ukrainian fighters still lurking at a house. giant steel machine. Putin ordered his troops to blockade the stronghold “so as not to let a fly pass” instead of storming into it.

Satellite imagery provider Maxar Technologies has released photos showing more than 200 mass graves in a town where Ukrainian officials say the Russians have buried Mariupol residents killed in the fighting. The image shows a long line of graves stretching from an existing cemetery in the town of Manhush, on the outskirts of Mariupol.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko accused the Russians of “covering up their military crimes” by removing the bodies of civilians from the city and burying them in Manhush.

Mariupol city council said the graves could hold up to 9,000 dead on Thursday in a post on messaging app Telegram.

Boychenko labeled Russian actions in the city the “new Babi Yar,” referring to the site of several Nazi massacres in which nearly 34,000 Ukrainian Jews were killed in 1941.

An aide to Boychenko, Piotr Andryushchenko, said on Telegram: “The bodies of the dead were transported by trucks and were really simply piled up.

There was no immediate response from the Kremlin. When mass graves and hundreds of dead civilians were discovered in Bucha and other towns around Kyiv after Russian troops withdrew three weeks ago, Russian officials denied their soldiers killed them. any civilians there and accuse Ukraine of orchestrating the atrocities.

In a statement, Maxar said a review of previous images indicated that the tombs in Manhush were dug in late March and enlarged in recent weeks.

After nearly two months of deadly bombardment that left Mariupol near a heap of rubble, Russian forces appear to have taken control of the rest of the strategically important southern city, including the vital but now present port. its badly damaged.

But according to Moscow’s estimates, a few thousand Ukrainian troops held out for weeks at the steel plant, despite attacks from Russian forces and repeated demands for their surrender. About 1,000 civilians are also trapped there, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Russia of carrying out attacks to prevent the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol.

At least two Russian attacks on Thursday hit the city of Zaporizhzhia, a stopover for people fleeing Mariupol. The regional governor said no one was injured.

Among those who arrived in Zaporizhzhia after fleeing the city were Yuriy and Polina Lulac, who spent nearly two months living in a basement with at least a dozen other people. Yuriy Lulac said there was no running water and little food.

“What’s happening there is so horrible you can’t describe it,” said the native Russian speaker, who used the insulting word for the Russian military, saying that they “killed people for nothing”.

“Mariupol has disappeared. In the courtyard there are only graves and crosses,” said Lulac.

The Red Cross said it had planned to evacuate 1,500 people by bus, but the Russians only allowed a few dozen people to leave and pulled some people off the bus.

Dmitriy Antipenko said he mostly lived in the basement with his wife and father-in-law amid death and devastation.

“In the courtyard, there was a small cemetery, and we buried seven people there,” Antipenko said, wiping away tears.

Instead of sending troops to destroy the Mariupol defenders inside the steel mill in a potentially bloody frontal attack, Russia clearly intended to maintain the siege and wait for the fighters to surrender when they ran out of food or ammunition.

All told, more than 100,000 people are believed to be stranded with little or no food, water, heat or medicine in Mariupol, which had a population of about 430,000 before the war. More than 20,000 people were killed in the siege, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The city has attracted worldwide attention as the site of some of the worst suffering of war, including deadly air raids on a maternity hospital and a theatre.

Boychenko rejected any notion that Mariupol had fallen into Russian hands.

“The city was, is and is still Ukrainian,” he declared. “Today our brave warriors, our heroes, are defending our city.”

Mariupol’s capture would represent the Kremlin’s biggest victory in the war in Ukraine. It would help Moscow secure more of its coastline, complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014, and free up more forces to join the larger battle and potentially more consequential is currently happening for Ukraine’s eastern industrial hub, Donbas.

At a joint appearance with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin declared: “The completion of the combat work for the liberation of Mariupol is a success,” and he congratulated Shoigu.

Shoigu predicts that the Azovstal steel plant can be put into operation in three to four days. However, Mr Putin said it would be “nonsense” and expressed concern for the lives of Russia’s troops when he decided not to send them in to clean up the sprawling factory where hardline defenders are being held. Hiding in a maze of underground passages.

Instead, the Russian leader said, the military should “lock off this industrial area so that not a single fly flies through.”

The plant covers an area of ​​11 square kilometers and is connected to about 24 kilometers of tunnels and bunkers.

“The Russian agenda now is not to take the really difficult places where the Ukrainians can hold out in the urban centers, but to try to capture the territory and also to encircle the forces. Ukraine and declare a huge victory,” retired British Brigadier General Chris. Parry said.

Russian officials have for weeks said that capturing the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas was the main goal of the war. Moscow’s forces opened a new phase of fighting this week along a 480-kilometer front from the city of Kharkiv northeast to the Sea of ​​Azov.

According to military analysts, while Russia continues its air and artillery attacks on these areas, it does not seem to have gained any significant force in the past few days, according to the sources. Military analysts, who say Moscow’s forces are still stepping up their offensive.

A senior US official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessment said Ukraine was hindering Russia’s efforts to push Izyum south.

Rockets hit a Kharkiv neighborhood on Thursday, and at least two civilians were burned to death in their cars. A school and a residential building were also hit, and firefighters tried to put out the fire and search for anyone trapped.

In another development, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that the Russian military had kidnapped a local official traveling in a humanitarian convoy in the southern Kherson region. She said the Russians offered to release him in exchange for Russian prisoners of war, but she considered that unacceptable.

Vereshchuk also said that efforts to establish three humanitarian corridors in the Kherson area failed on Thursday because the Russian military did not organize firing.

In the US, President Joe Biden pledged $1.3 billion in economic support and new weapons to help Ukraine, and he promised to seek more from Congress to keep guns and ammunition flowing. and cash.


Associated Press journalists Mstyslav Chernov and Felipe Dana in Kharkiv, Ukraine; Danica Kirka in London; and Robert Burns and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report, as did other AP staff members around the world.



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