Russia-Ukraine war: satellite images appear to show mass graves near Mariupol; Zelenskiy says Ukraine needs $7bn a month in aid – live


Satellite images appear to show mass graves near Mariupol

Russia has been hiding evidence of its “barbaric” war crimes in Mariupol by burying the bodies of civilians killed by shelling in a new mass grave, the city’s mayor said on Thursday, as a US satellite imagery company released photos that appeared to match the site.

The mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said Russian trucks had collected corpses from the streets of the port city and had transported them to the nearby village of Manhush. They were then secretly thrown into a mass grave in a field next to the settlement’s old cemetery, he said.

The invaders are concealing evidence of their crimes. The cemetery is located near a petrol station to the left side of a circular road. The Russians have dug huge trenches, 30 metres wide. They chuck people in.”

Satellite images appear to show mass graves near Mariupol
Satellite images appear to show mass graves near Mariupol

“The bodies of the dead were being brought by the truckload and actually simply being dumped in mounds,” an aide to Boychenko, Piotr Andryushchenko, said on Telegram.

The graves could hold as many as 9,000 dead, the Mariupol city council said on Thursday in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

The mayor estimated that more than 20,000 Mariupol residents had been killed since Russian forces began attacking the city during the early days of Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Most bodies had now been removed, he said, with some disposed of in mobile crematoriums.

Later on Thursday, the US company Maxar Technologies released images of what appeared to be a mass grave in the same area. The site had been expanded in recent weeks to contain more than 200 new graves, Maxar said.

Russia plans to ‘falsify’ independence referendum in Kherson, Zelenskiy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russia of planning to “falsify” an independence referendum in the partly occupied southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Zelenskiy urged residents of areas under Russian occupation to not provide any personal information, like their passport numbers, to the Russian forces, in a video message aired late on Thursday evening.

I urge the residents of the southern regions of Ukraine – Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions – to be very careful about what information you provide to the invaders. And if they ask you to fill out some questionnaires, leave your passport data somewhere, you should know – this is not to help you…

This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land, if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show. And this is the reality. Be careful.”

Zelenskiy also issued a warning to ‘Kherson People’s Republics’ saying their plans “are not going to fly”.

“If someone wants a new annexation, it can only lead to new powerful sanctions strikes on Russia. You will make your country as poor as Russia hasn’t been since the 1917 civil war. So it is better to seek peace now.”

Summary

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments until my colleague, Martin Belam, takes the reins a little later in the day.

It is just past 7am in Ukraine. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Russia plans to “falsify” an independence referendum in the partly occupied southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy claimed.
    Zelenskiy urged residents of areas under Russian occupation to not provide any personal information, like their passport numbers, to the Russian forces, in a video message aired late on Thursday evening.
  • Russia has been hiding evidence of its “barbaric” war crimes in Mariupol by burying the bodies of civilians killed by shelling in a new mass grave, the city’s mayor said, as a US satellite imagery company released photos that appeared to match the site.
  • Civilians are trapped under buildings in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks plant, deputy commander Svyatoslav Palamar from Ukraine’s Azov regiment has said. “We have wounded and dead inside the bunkers. Some civilians remain trapped under the collapsed buildings,” he told the BBC. Some children are believed to be as young as three months old.
  • US officials have dismissed Vladimir Putin’s claim that his forces have “liberated” the port city of Mariupol as disinformation. The Russian president made the claim despite an admission by his defence minister that Russia’s military was still battling thousands of Ukrainian troops holed up in Azovstal steelworks.
  • Western officials said Putin is “still in a position to win” in Ukraine despite failing in his pre-war objectives. Russia had started to address some of the issues that had hindered its army at the start of the invasion, one official said.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Russia rejected a proposed Easter truce, but that he remains hopeful of prospects for peace. Earlier this week Russia rejected the same request from the UN, claiming it was not “sincere” and would give Ukrainian fighters more time to arm themselves.
  • Zelenskiy also told leaders of the World Bank and IMF that Ukraine will need “hundreds of billions of dollars” to recover from war. Ukraine needs $7bn each month to keep its economy afloat amid the “economic losses” inflicted by Russia, Zelenskiy said via video link. He also proposed a special war tax on Russia. World Bank president David Malpass said the physical damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure has reached $60bn.
  • Germany will provide a further €37m ($40.12m) to Ukraine for reconstruction as a result of the war, Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper reported, citing development ministry sources.
  • Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, confirmed war crimes experts are helping Ukraine “to ensure the inevitability of Russia’s responsibility”. The United States said it has also been in contact with Ukraine’s prosecutor and is assisting with the preservation and collection of evidence of war crimes committed by Russia, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said. More than 7,600 war crimes committed by Russia have been recorded, Venediktova claimed.
  • Ukraine’s deputy prime minister apologised to residents of Mariupol for failed evacuation efforts from the besieged port city. She added that authorities will not give up. Officials estimate that 100,000 people are currently trapped in the city.
  • The US defence secretary will host Ukraine-focused defence talks with allies in Germany next week, the Pentagon has confirmed. Lloyd Austin will meet allies on 26 April at the Ramstein Air Base in south-western Germany, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. The pentagon also confirmed newly disclosed ‘Ghost’ drones are part of America’s latest arms package for Ukraine.
  • Russia has slapped “indefinite’ travel bans on US vice president Kamala Harris and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg as well as dozens of prominent Americans and Canadians in retaliation for sanctions imposed over Ukraine. The Russian foreign ministry said the travel restrictions on 29 Americans and 61 Canadians – which also includes defence officials, business leaders and journalists from both countries – would remain in effect indefinitely.
  • UK prime minister Boris Johnson revealed that dozens of Ukrainian soldiers are training in the UK, learning how to use 120 British armoured vehicles before returning with them to fight in the war against Russia. British forces are also training Ukrainian counterparts in Poland on how to use anti-aircraft missiles, the prime minister said.
  • About 120,000 civilians are blocked from leaving Mariupol, Zelenskiy said. Three school buses filled with people from Mariupol arrived in Zaporizhzhia today after crossing through territory held by Russian forces, but Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said the number of evacuees was far smaller than had been hoped for.
  • Russian forces captured dozens of villages in the eastern Donetsk region on Thursday, an aide to Zelenskiy’s chief of staff said.
  • The bodies of 1,020 civilians are being stored in morgues in and around Kyiv after Russian troops withdrew, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Olga Stefanishyna, told Agence France-Presse. Her comments came after police said they discovered the remains of nine civilians in the town of Borodianka, 54km (34 miles) from the capital, buried in communal graves and showing signs of torture.
  • Joe Biden announced that the US will provide another $800m (£614m) military assistance package to Ukraine to “further augment Ukraine’s ability to fight in the east, in the Donbas region”. The new US weapon deliveries will include 72 howitzers and their towing vehicles along with 144,000 artillery rounds and more than 120 drones tailored for Ukraine’s needs. Biden also announced that the US will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees under a new programme.
  • Seven people were killed after a huge fire broke out at a key Russian defence research institute in Tver north-west of Moscow, according to reports. Local authorities said 25 people had also been injured in Thursday’s fire, Tass news agency reported, citing emergency services, and that at least 10 people were missing.

As usual, please feel free to reach out to me by email or Twitter for any tips or feedback.





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