Russia has been accused of digging mass graves for civilian victims, who died during the war in Ukraine. The Russian government denies these accusations, but according to an international organization, more than 9600 people have been buried in secret graves.
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Digging Mass Graves for Civilian Victims. The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of digging mass graves for civilian victims.
KHARKIV, Ukraine (Ukraine) — Thousands of victims were buried in mass graves near Mariupol, a city now largely under Russian control, according to Ukrainian authorities, while a senior Russian military official stated Moscow’s territorial aspirations extend well beyond Ukraine’s eastern Donbas area.
When President Vladimir Putin acknowledged the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, statelets founded with Moscow’s aid in part of the territory in 2014, Moscow ceased considering Donbas as part of Ukraine—including parts held by Kyiv.
In remarks broadcast by state media on Friday, Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s Central Military District, said Moscow wanted to control all of southern Ukraine to secure a land corridor to Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014, and Moldova’s Transnistria region, where he said Russian speakers face discrimination.
To fulfill these objectives, Russia would have to conquer the coastal areas of Mykolaiv and Odessa, in addition to the sections of Donbas that remain under Ukrainian control. Russian soldiers came dangerously near to capturing Mykolaiv in early March, but were repulsed and now only hold a slice of the province.
After almost two months of fierce conflict, Russia has upped its bombardment of Ukraine’s second-largest city. Yaroslav Trofimov of the Wall Street Journal writes on the horrific situation in Kharkiv, where inhabitants are surviving on minimal food and sheltering in basements. Associated Press/Felipe Dana photo
Moscow, on the other hand, controls the majority of the Kherson area in southern Ukraine, as well as a substantial portion of the Zaporizhzhia region. Interviews with a member of the Russian parliament, Dmitriy Belik, and a pro-Moscow Crimean Tatar leader, Eyvaz Umerov, were broadcast by Russia’s RIA official news agency on Friday, advocating for the seized lands to be absorbed into a new Crimean federal district inside Russia.
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, refused to comment on the likelihood of Russia broadening its military objectives in southern Ukraine. It was unclear how much of Gen. Minnekayev’s words matched Kremlin doctrine, which included incorrect assertions that Russia fought “against the whole world” in World War II and that Russian military forces are suffering no fatalities in Ukraine.
An overview of tombs in Manhush, near Mariupol, as seen in a satellite photograph released by Maxar Technologies.
Maxar Technologies/Associated Press photo
Ukrainian municipal officials reported that mass graves of citizens slain by the Russian army were being excavated outside the city in an area that is already double the size of the local cemetery in Mariupol, which has been flattened by shelling, bombing, and street battles.
“Mariupol has committed the biggest war crime of the twenty-first century,” Mayor Vadym Boychenko stated in statements shared on social media by the municipality. “Putin is committing genocide on Ukrainians.” In Mariupol, he has already slaughtered tens of thousands of people.”
Maxar Technologies published satellite photographs on Thursday that purported to reveal more than 200 mass graves near the village of Manhush, close outside Mariupol. According to the municipality, the tombs could hold between 3,000 and 9,000 individuals. A request for comment from Russia was not immediately returned. In general, it blames Ukrainian military for all civilian deaths in Mariupol.
Even though Ukrainian soldiers were still blockaded inside the massive Azovstal steel factory, Russia declared victory in the vital port city on Thursday. While practically all of Mariupol was under Russian control, a spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared the struggle for the facility continued.
In a Thursday speech, Adam Delimkhanov, a Russian congressman from Chechnya who commanded Chechen forces of the Russian National Guard in fighting for Mariupol, a rare acknowledgement of Moscow’s premeditated plot to flatten the city, which used to be home to roughly 400,000 people, was made.
Mr. Delimkhanov declared with a unit of Chechen Russian National Guard soldiers in front of a burning Mariupol building, “We can claim that the special operation to demolish and purify Mariupol has finally been completed.” “Russia is strength,” and “Allahu akbar,” yelled the warriors in the video.
Chechen fighters, commanded by Russian legislator Adam Delimkhanov, outside the Azovstal steel plant’s administrative building in Mariupol.
PHOTO: REUTERS/CHINGIS KONDAROV
The steel mill in Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces are holed up, is engulfed in smoke.
ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/
Mr. Peskov said that Russian soldiers had surrounded the Azovstal steel complex, which was home to an estimated 1,500 Ukrainian troops. Ukrainian troops in Mariupol claimed they would be willing to surrender their rifles if a third party guaranteed their safety.
Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, stated on Friday that he agreed with a Western intelligence assessment that the battle in Ukraine may go until the end of the year, and that Russia could prevail.
Mr. Johnson added, “I think the unfortunate part is that that is a possible possibility.” “Putin has a massive force, and he’s in a tough situation because he’s made a horrible blunder—his only alternative now is to keep trying to deploy his awful, grinding strategy.”
The British government also announced that its embassy in Kyiv would reopen next week, following a slew of other countries that have returned to the Ukrainian capital after Russian military withdrew from Kyiv and other towns in the north. Mr. Johnson also said that the administration intends to deploy tanks to Poland.
The United States has no diplomatic employees in Ukraine and has made no arrangements to send back diplomats.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will go to Moscow on Tuesday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as part of efforts to bring the conflict to a conclusion, according to his office.
In Kyiv, Mr. Guterres has also requested a meeting with Mr. Zelensky. On the time and arrangements for a prospective visit, his administration is collaborating with the Ukrainian government.
After his first plan to quickly seize the capital, Kyiv, and other important cities in eastern and central Ukraine failed due to stiff opposition, Mr. Putin directed Russian troops to concentrate on taking the sections of Donbas that remain under Ukrainian control. According to Ukrainian and Western authorities, Russia’s new plan in Donbas is to surround Ukraine’s finest troops in a pincer operation, with offensives moving north from Zaporizhzhia and south from Izyum.
Since conquering the town of Kreminna this weekend, Russian soldiers have made modest inroads, capturing a number of tiny settlements. According to Ukraine’s military command, Russian soldiers advanced on Slovyansk, one of the principal towns in the Ukrainian-controlled Donbas, and gained control of the hamlet of Lozove on Friday.
According to footage of wreckage posted by Ukrainian troops and verified by military analysts, Ukraine’s military has been able to limit Russia’s overwhelming advantage in aircraft by using Western-supplied antiaircraft missiles, such as the Stinger and Starstreak, to shoot down several Russian jet fighters, helicopters, and drones in recent days. An An-26B cargo jet crashed into a power line in the Zaporizhzhia area of Ukraine on Friday, killing at least one crew member.
With the struggle for Donbas pitting conventional troops against one other, Ukraine is straining to compensate for its lack of artillery and Soviet-standard ammunition—one reason Mr. Zelensky has repeatedly requested NATO-standard heavy weaponry from the US and allies.
Ukraine was the first country to receive NATO-standard 155-mm howitzers from the United States. President Biden said on Thursday that the newest $800 million military assistance package will include 72 of these towed artillery pieces, up from 18 committed the week before.
President Emmanuel Macron revealed in an interview published Friday by the publication Ouest-France that Paris is supplying Ukraine with Caesar self-propelled 155-mm artillery pieces. According to the publication, Paris is transporting 12 Caesars with a range of 40 kilometers, and Ukrainian troops will begin training in France on Saturday, citing military sources.
Russian-controlled regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson will be severed from Ukraine in the next weeks, according to Ukrainian authorities, with Moscow perhaps declaring a so-called Kherson people’s republic, similar to what it did in Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk in 2014. This would enable Russia to begin forcefully recruiting local males, as it has done in Donetsk and Luhansk with the required mobilization of men aged 65 and higher.
With the exception of the mayor of Kherson, Russia has already replaced most mayors in seized parts of southern Ukraine with selected loyalists. Moscow has been silent on the referendum preparations. “Not a single person from the Kherson area, which is awaiting freedom, would attend that vote,” Hennadiy Lahuta, the Ukrainian governor of Kherson, declared on television. “Everything they do will be illegal and fabricated.”
In the Hostomel area, a partly ruined cross.
Mikhail Palincha/AFP/Getty Images
—This paper was co-written by Georgi Kantchev.
Yaroslav Trofimov may be reached at [email protected]
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The “mass graves in luhansk” is a story that has been circulating around the internet. Ukraine has accused Russia of digging mass graves for civilian victims.
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