Russian troops in Mariupol are allegedly digging up thousands of dead civilians and burning their bodies in mobile crematoriums in a possible bid to destroy evidence of atrocities like the ones discovered in Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv when the Russians withdrew.
Mariupol’s city council in a post on Telegram today said Moscow’s men were exhuming bodies buried in residential courtyards within the city and were assigning watchmen to each square to stop locals from reburying their dead friends and relatives.
‘Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown,’ the council said in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app.
It comes days after Mayor Vadym Boychenko warned corpses ‘carpeted the streets’ of Mariupol as he accused Moscow of incinerating tens of thousands of civilians killed during a siege that has trapped well over 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heating.
Chechen fighters in the city were today taking on the last of the Ukrainian defenders and were filmed firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers blindly from behind walls and barricades as Russian forces try to take full control of the port city after laying siege to it for nearly seven weeks.
Members of Vladimir Putin’s Rosgvardia force – or National Guard – were seen holding weapons above their heads as they fired into the ether while taking cover by blown out cars and behind fences in what appeared to be a series of backyards in a residential district of Mariupol.
Russian forces have in recent days made advances in Mariupol with Moscow claiming on Wednesday that its troops had taken control of the final Ukrainian strongholds in the city including the Azovstal industrial complex, where Kyiv’s forces have been holed up in a hellish last stand for several days.
But Ukrainian marines who have teamed up with the Azov regiment to defend Mariupol yesterday appeared in a video to rebuff the claims as they denounced more than 1,000 fellow soldiers who surrendered to Russian forces on Wednesday and vowed to do ‘whatever it takes’ to protect the city.
Mariupol’s capture is critical for Russia because it would allow its forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland and the target of the looming offensive.
Boychenko said this week that more than 10,000 civilians had died and warned that the death toll could surpass 20,000. David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Program, said in an interview yesterday that people were being ‘starved to death’ in the besieged city.
Russian troops in Mariupol are allegedly digging up thousands of dead civilians and burning their bodies in mobile crematoriums in a possible bid to destroy evidence of atrocities like the ones discovered in Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv when the Russians withdrew (pictured, a grave in Mariupol)
Members of Vladimir Putin’s Rosgvardia force – or National Guard – were seen holding weapons above their heads as they fired into the ether while taking cover by blown out cars and behind fences in what appeared to be a series of backyards in a residential district of Mariupol
Chechen fighters in the city were today taking on the last of the Ukrainian defenders and were filmed firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers blindly from behind walls and barricades as Russian forces try to take full control of the port city after laying siege to it for nearly seven weeks
Russian forces have in recent days made advances in Mariupol with Moscow claiming on Wednesday that its troops had taken control of the final Ukrainian strongholds in the city which has been under siege for nearly seven weeks
Mariupol’s capture is critical for Russia because it would allow its forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland and the target of the looming offensive (pictured, a destroy building in the port city)
A torn Ukrainian flags hangs on a wire in front an apartment building destroyed in a Russian missile strike on the besieged port city of Mariupol
People stand outside a shopping centre destroyed in a sustained Russian bombardment of Mariupol ongoing for nearly seven weeks
‘The situation in Mariupol is difficult and hard. Fighting is happening right now. The Russian army is constantly calling on additional units to storm the city,’ defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said.
‘But as of now the Russians haven’t managed to completely capture it,’ he told a televised briefing.
Motuzyanyk said Russia had used long-range bombers to attack Mariupol for the first time since its February 24 invasion, and that elsewhere Russian forces were concentrating efforts on seizing the cities of Rubizhne and Popasna in Ukraine’s east.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that 2,864 people had been evacuated from conflict areas on Friday, including 363 people from Mariupol who used their own transport.
WFP executive director David Beasley also warned in an interview on Thursday with AP in Kyiv that Russia’s invasion of grain-exporting Ukraine risks destabilizing nations far from its shores and could trigger waves of migrants seeking better lives elsewhere.
The war that began February 24 was ‘devastating the people in Ukraine,’ Beasley said, lamenting the lack of access faced by the WFP and other aid organizations in trying to reach those in need amid the conflict.
The fluid nature of the conflict, which has seen fighting shift away from areas around the capital and toward eastern Ukraine, has made it especially difficult to reach hungry Ukrainians.
The WFP is trying to put food supplies now in areas that could be caught up in the fighting, but Beasley acknowledged that there are ‘a lot of complexities’ as the situation rapidly evolves.
The warning comes a day after Moscow suffered a stinging symbolic defeat with the loss of the Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, after it sank while being towed to port on Thursday after suffering heavy damage under circumstances that remained in dispute.
Kyiv said it was struck with two Neptune cruise missiles fired by a coastal battery, which struck the port side of the vessel. Russian military sources said the ship had rolled on to its side and caught fire after the blast, while US intelligence sources said the vessel suffered a ‘large’ explosion that left it heavily damaged before it sank.
The Russian warship’s loss in an invasion already widely seen as a historic blunder also was a symbolic defeat for Moscow as its troops regroup for an offensive in eastern Ukraine after retreating from the Kyiv region and much of the north.
In his nightly address on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the people of his country should be proud of having survived 50 days under attack when the Russian invaders ‘gave us a maximum of five.’
Zelensky did not mention the Moskva by name, but while listing the ways Ukraine has defended against the onslaught, mentioned ‘those who showed that Russian warships can sail away, even if it’s to the bottom’ of the sea.
Firefighters carry a body bag in front of the damaged building during a rescue mission among the debris in Borodyanka region of Kyiv
Body bags are seen in front of the damaged building during debris removal works in progress in the Borodyanka region of Kyiv
People stand beside damaged buildings at the Vizar company military-industrial complex, after the site was hit by overnight Russian strikes in the town of Vyshneve
A Ukrainian military factory outside Kyiv that produced missiles allegedly used to hit Russia’s Moskva warship was partly destroyed by overnight Russian strikes
Debris removal works are seen in progress in the Borodyanka region of Kyiv following renewed Russian airstrikes after Ukraine sank the Moskva
A Ukrainian tank drives next to a destroyed Russian vehicle, marked with the ‘Z’ symbol in the village of Husarivka, in Kharkiv
A residential buildings destroyed in Russia shelling of Mariupol, where more than 100,000 civilians remained trapped without food, water or electricity
Aside from the sinking of the Moskva, Russia is also having to contend with strikes against Belgorod and heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine as it prepares for a fresh assault there. However, it has struck a missile factory in Kyiv it claims was used to build the missile that sank Moskva, and also appears poised to capture Mariupol in the south
Other Russian ships in the northern Black Sea moved farther south after the Moskva incident, a senior US defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal military assessments.
Russia’s Defense Ministry promised today to ramp up missile attacks on the Ukrainian capital in response to Ukraine’s alleged aggression on Russian territory in an ominous warning that followed Moscow’s stinging symbolic loss of its navy’s flagship in the Black Sea.
The threat of intensified attacks on Kyiv came after Russian authorities accused Ukraine of wounding seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings with airstrikes on Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine. Authorities in another border region of Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling yesterday.
‘The number and the scale of missile attacks on objects in Kyiv will be ramped up in response to the Kyiv nationalist regime committing any terrorist attacks or diversions on the Russian territory,’ Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
A renewed bombardment could return Kyiv’s residents to the steady wail of air raid sirens heard during the early days of Russia’s invasion and to fearful nights sheltering in subway stations. The capital has displayed tentative signs of pre-war life after Russian troops failed to capture the city and retreated to concentrate on eastern Ukraine.
Although it is not certain when Russia will launch the full-scale campaign, a regional Ukrainian official said on Friday that seven people died and 27 were injured after Russian forces opened fire on buses carrying civilians in the village of Borovaya, near the northeastern city of Kharkiv.
Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are working to establish the circumstances of the attack, Dmytro Chubenko, a spokesman for the regional prosecutor’s office, told Ukraine’s Suspilne news website.
The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet – the Soviet-era guided missile destroyer Moskva – has suffered heavy damage and may have sunk after Ukraine claimed to have shot it with two anti-ship cruise missiles
Russian Telegram accounts with links to the Wagner Group claim Bayraktar drones were used to distract the Moskva’s radar systems before a coastal battery opened fire somewhere near Odesa, hitting the ship with two Neptune missiles
Moskva could have been carrying warheads to fit into the tip of its Moskva’s P-1000 supersonic cruise missiles, which are designed to take out American aircraft carriers