A third mass grave has been found near the embattled Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and the mayor says Russian occupiers have forced residents to work on the burials.
The trench, seen on satellite images, stretches more than 200 yards – and contains thousands of civilian bodies, Mayor Vadym Boychenko said.
“We know about these mass graves because these fascists – and I have no other words – involve the local population for burial,” Boychenko told Radio Svoboda. “They told us that you need to work hours (for) food, water. … People are forced to do so.”
Weeks of Russian bombardments have devastated the city and shrunk the once-bustling city of more than 400,000 to a small fraction of that number. Russian forces control most of the city, with holdouts centered in and around the sprawling Azovstal steel plant. The British Defense Ministry says Russia’s decision to besiege rather than attack the plant means many Russian units cannot be redeployed elsewhere in the country.
“Ukraine’s defence of Mariupol has also exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness,” the British assessment says.
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►Russian forces bombarded five railroad stations in central and western Ukraine including one near Lviv, and one worker was killed, said Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of Ukraine’s state railway.
►The Ukrainian grain harvest for 2022 is likely to be around 20% lower than 2021 due to reduced sowing areas following the invasion, the United Kingdom said.
Pentagon wants to ensure Russia can’t ‘conduct this kind of invasion again’
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Tuesday reiterated the Defense Department’s interest in seeing Russia weakened so it cannot threaten its geographic neighbors.
“Russia continues to isolate itself, its economy is in tatters, its military has been depleted in many ways…they are a weaker military, they are a weaker state right now,” Kirby said in an interview with CNN. “We don’t want to see Russia able to conduct this kind of invasion again in the future.”
Kirby also responded to comments made by Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on raising the specter of nuclear war, calling them “obviously unhelpful, not constructive and certainly not indicative of what a responsible nuclear power ought to be doing in a public sphere.”
– Ella Lee
The U.S. and its allies “will keep moving heaven and earth” to support Ukraine’s efforts to repel the Russian invasion, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday. Austin met with officials from dozens of countries at the United States’ Ramstein Air Base in Germany to work out ways to aid to Ukraine’s military. Guests included Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.
“Russia’s invasion is indefensible,” Austin said. “So are Russian atrocities.”
He said the invasion was an effort to “indulge the ambitions of one man” – Russian President Vladimir Putin. More than 30 allies and partners have joined the U.S. in sending security assistance to Ukraine, committing more than $5 billion worth of equipment.
“All of us have your back. And that’s why we’re here today – to strengthen the arsenal of Ukrainian democracy,” he said. “Russia has sought as its principal aim to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. That has failed.”
A top Russian diplomat said the danger of a nuclear conflict is “serious” and “real” during an interview on Russian television.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Ukrainian leaders of provoking Russia by asking NATO to become involved in the conflict. NATO has provided support for Ukraine since the invasion two months ago but has steadfastly declined to institute a no-fly zone for Ukraine, which is not a member of the alliance.
NATO forces are “pouring oil on the fire” by providing weapons to Ukraine, he said.
“Everyone is reciting incantations that in no case can we allow World War III,” Lavrov said.
Contributing: The Associated Press