'the new Babyn Yar'
New satellite photos of Ukraine show a mass grave in the Russian-occupied village of Manhush, about 12 miles outside of embattled Mariupol, The Washington Post reports. The photos, from Maxar Technologies, show the graves appearing between March 23 and 26. The Mariupol City Council said on Telegram that Russian forces "dug new trenches and filled them with corpses every day throughout April," and that up to 9,000 people were "buried in several layers."
"The biggest war crime of the 21st century was committed in Mariupol," Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in the council's statement, which contains unverified figures. "This is the new Babyn Yar. Then, Hitler killed Jews, Roma, and Slavs. Now, Putin is destroying Ukrainians." Babyn Yar is one of the largest mass graves in Europe, located on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Ukrainian officials estimated that at least 20,000 people have been killed in Russia's siege of Mariupol, and President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday accused Russia of working to cover up their atrocities in the port city, including burning bodies in a mobile crematorium. "The occupiers drew conclusions from how the world reacted to the massacre in Bucha," he said. "And now the Russians are trying to hide the traces of war crimes."
The civilians who have managed to escape from Mariupol into Ukrainian-held areas paint a very bleak picture.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in Mariupol early Thursday, ordering Russian forces to seal the remaining 2,000 or so Ukrainian marines and soldiers inside their last stronghold, the sprawling Azovstal steel plant. Zelensky rejected Putin's claim to have captured the city, BBC News reports in its update on the war.
"Putin's decision to blockade the Azovstal steel plant likely indicates a desire to contain Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol and free up Russian forces to be deployed elsewhere in eastern Ukraine," Britain's Ministry of Defense said Friday morning. "A full ground assault by Russia on the plant would likely incur significant Russian casualties, further decreasing their overall combat effectiveness."