Mayor: More than 10,000 civilians killed in Ukraine port city of Mariupol Corpses are now “carpeted through the streets” of Mariupol, according to the mayor, after Russian troops killed more than 10,000 civilians in their failed attempt to capture the strategic southern port over the past six weeks, while Western powers warned Tuesday of a continuing buildup for a suspected Russian assault in Ukraine’s east.
Russian military are continuing to pull out of Belarus, according to the British Ministry of Defense, to support operations in eastern Ukraine, particularly in the Donbas region, where Russian-allied separatists have declared independence.
“As Russia continues to refocus its efforts in eastern Ukraine, fighting will intensify over the next two to three weeks,” the ministry stated in a tweet. “Russian attacks on Ukrainian forces near Donetsk and Luhansk continue, with further fighting in Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed drive on Kramatorsk,” says the report.
The southeastern port city of Mariupol has suffered some of the most severe attacks and civilian casualties in the six-week-old conflict, but Russian forces battling to capture it have increasingly limited information on conditions within the city.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko told The Associated Press by phone on Monday that Russian forces have stopped weeks of attempted aid convoys entering the city, in order to hide the devastation. According to Boychenko, the death toll in Mariupol alone could exceed 20,000.
Boychenko further clarified Ukrainian officials’ claims that Russian forces had transported mobile cremation equipment to Mariupol to dispose of the bodies of the siege’s victims.
According to Boychenko, Russian authorities have carried numerous dead to a large shopping complex with storage facilities and refrigerators.
“Mobile crematoriums have arrived in the form of trucks: you open it, and inside there is a pipe, and these remains are burned,” he explained.
Boychenko spoke from an area held by Ukraine but outside of Mariupol. The mayor stated that he had numerous sources for his account of Russian forces allegedly burning bodies in the city in a systematic manner, but he did not elaborate on his sources.
After Russian forces retreated from cities and towns around Kyiv, significant numbers of reportedly killed people were discovered, prompting global outrage and accusations that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine.
More indicators that Russia’s military is preparing for a massive operation in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region have emerged, according to US officials, after Russian forces failed in their initial attempt to conquer Kyiv.
Since 2014, war has raged in Donbas between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces, with Russia recognizing the insurgents’ claims to independence. Russian officials appear to be hoping that local support, logistics, and geography in Donbas benefit Russia’s larger and better-armed military, allowing Russian troops to seize more territory and weaken Ukraine’s fighting forces, according to military strategists.
Russia has named a seasoned general to oversee its latest offensive in eastern Donbas.
A senior US defense official described a long Russian convoy presently rolling toward the eastern city of Izyum with artillery, aircraft, and infantry support as part of redeployment for what seems to be the looming Russian campaign, according to a senior US defense officer.
According to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal US military assessments, more artillery is being deployed near Donetsk, while ground combat units that withdrew from the Kyiv and Chernihiv areas appear destined for refitting and resupply before repositioning in Donbas.
With their onslaught in many regions of the country halted, Russian forces have resorted to shelling cities, a policy that has resulted in the destruction of several cities and the deaths of thousands of civilians.
In the six weeks after Russia’s invasion began, about two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes, according to the UN children’s agency. The United Nations has confirmed that 142 children have died and 229 have been injured, however the true figure is likely far higher.
Russian soldiers are accused of carrying out atrocities in Ukraine, including a massacre in Bucha, a hamlet west of Kyiv, bombings on hospitals, and a missile attack on a train station that killed at least 57 people last week.
The exhumation of bodies from a mass burial in a churchyard in Bucha has resumed.
Galyna Feoktistova waited in the cold and rain for hours in the hopes of identifying her 50-year-old son, who was shot and died over a month ago, but she eventually returned home for some warmth. Andriy, her surviving son, remarked, “He’s still there.”
According to the mayor, roughly 120,000 inhabitants in Mariupol are in desperate need of food, water, warmth, and communication.
Only residents who have been through the Russian “filtration camps” are allowed to leave the city, according to Boychenko.
Russian troops, according to Ukrainian officials, are seizing passports from Ukrainian residents, transporting them to camps in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled east, and then deporting them to remote, economically impoverished areas of Russia.
Those who did not pass the “filtering” have been sent to makeshift cells, according to Boychenko. He said that at least 33,000 people have been deported to Russia or separatist territories in Ukraine.
Russian officials have denied forcing anyone to go against their will.
President Volodymyr Zelensky cautioned Ukrainians that Russia could attack Mariupol with chemical weapons. In his nightly address Monday, Zelensky stated, “We take this as seriously as possible.”
Even before Russian forces entered Ukraine, Western leaders warned that Russia could use unconventional weapons, including chemical agents.
Eduard Basurin, a Russian-allied separatist official, appeared to advocate for their use on Monday, saying Russian state television that Russian-backed forces should seize a massive metals facility in Mariupol from Ukrainian forces by first blocking all exits. “After that, we’ll smoke them out with chemical troops,” he warned.
A Ukrainian unit also claimed Monday, without evidence, that a drone dropped a deadly chemical in Mariupol. There were no significant injuries, according to the report.
The US could not confirm the drone report out of Mariupol, according to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. However, Kirby reiterated the administration’s concerns “about Russia’s ability to use a variety of riot control chemicals in Ukraine, including tear gas laced with chemical agents.”
Russia’s attack is increasingly concentrated on an arc of terrain extending from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in the north to Kherson, in the south, according to Western military analysts.
However, when determined Ukrainian troops repulsed their push on Kyiv, questions linger about the potential of weakened and demoralized Russian soldiers to gain additional further.