New evidence of potential war crimes allegedly committed by Russian forces has emerged from Mariupol, as the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance continues to hold out in the city despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to declare a victory in the key port.
Satellite images and claims from Ukrainian officials point to potential evidence of a mass grave near the strategically vital city in the country’s southeast.
maxar, a company that operates Earth-observation satellites, said the images showed a growing mass burial site with more than 200 new graves beginning to appear toward the end of March and continuing to expand in April. The images emerged just hours after Putin ordered his troops to blockade rather than storm the last Ukrainian stronghold in the city.
Ukrainian officials said that the site, in a village outside the besieged and bombarded city, may contain as many as 9,000 bodies.
NBC News could not immediately confirm the report, nor could it confirm local media reports cited by Maxar describing Russian soldiers taking bodies of people killed in Mariupol to the site.
“The biggest war crime of the 21st century was committed in Mariupol,” the besieged city’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said. He also said that the fate of the city’s remaining civilians and defenders was in Putin’s hands, with the Azovstal steel plant now seemingly sealed off but still holding out.
More than a quarter of Ukraine’s population in need of ‘urgent humanitarian assistance,’ the UN says
More than a quarter of Ukraine’s population is currently in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, a United Nations official said on Friday, after Russian forces destroyed critical infrastructure in urban centers and cut off some cities from food, water and medicine.
“At least 15.7 million people in Ukraine are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection,” said Assistant Secretary-General Amin Awad during a press conference in Lviv in western Ukraine.
The official said the city of Kherson was running low on food and supplies, while Mykolaiv has been without water for seven days.
“I appeal for safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance,” he said, saying workers on the ground faced “tremendous challenges that often prevent them from delivering assistance to areas where people are in desperate need.”
Russia frees up its forces around Azovstal Steel Plant for redeployment, says UK
Russia is likely freeing up its forces near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol for deployment elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, the British defense ministry said.
“A full ground assault by Russia on the plant would likely incur significant Russian casualties, further decreasing their overall combat effectiveness,” it said in an intelligence update published Thursday.
Russia is seeking to advance deeper into the Donbas region, including settlements of Barvinkove and Popasna, it said.
“Despite Russia’s renewed focus they are still suffering from losses sustained earlier in the conflict. In order to try and reconstitute their depleted forces, they have resorted to transiting inoperable equipment back to Russia for repair, ”it added ella.
Satellite images appear to show potential mass grave in Mariupol
Russia rejects Easter truce, Zelenskyy says
Russia rejected a proposal for a truce during Orthodox Christian Easter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.
“This shows very well how the leaders of this state actually treat the Christian faith, one of the most joyful and important holidays,” he said in a video address late Thursday. “But we remain hopeful,” he said. “Hope for peace. Hope that life will overcome death.”
Russian officials did not immediately comment on the proposal.
Zelenskyy: Ukraine will need hundreds of billions to rebuild
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism