A third mass grave has been found near the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and the mayor says Russian occupiers forced residents to work in burial grounds.
Mayor Vadim Boychenko said the trench, seen in satellite images, stretches more than 200 yards — and contains thousands of civilian corpses.
“We know about these mass graves because these fascists – I have no other words – involve the local population to bury them,” Boychenko told Radio Svoboda. “They told us you need to work hours (for) food and water…People are forced to do that.”
Weeks of Russian bombardment have devastated society and reduced the once bustling city of over 400,000 to a tiny fraction of that number. Russian forces control most of the city. The collectibles are stationed in and around the sprawling Azovstal steel mill. Britain’s MoD says Russia’s decision to surround the plant rather than attack it means that many Russian units cannot be redeployed anywhere else in the country.
The British assessment says: “Ukraine’s defense of Mariupol has also exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness.”
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► As a gesture of solidarity with war victims, the Metropolitan Opera and Poland’s Narodua Opera in New York will bring prominent Ukrainian musicians together with the Ukraine Freedom Orchestra for a European and American tour from July 28 to August 20.
Poland’s government says it is imposing sanctions on 50 Russian entities and individuals over Russia’s war against Ukraine.
European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni told the newspaper that the European Union intends to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas by two-thirds by the end of the year and to zero by 2028. Messaggero Daily.
Mariupol is generating global interest, but local officials said at least nine people were killed and several more wounded in Russian attacks elsewhere in eastern and southern Ukraine. Pavlo Kirilenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, said that Russian forces “continue to deliberately shoot civilians and destroy vital infrastructure.”
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said her government had agreed to deliver self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. Chancellor Olaf Schultz faced increasing pressure to agree to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.
British Defense Secretary: Strikes against Russia ‘legitimate’
British Defense Secretary James Hebei said Ukraine had the right to use Western-supplied weapons to strike military targets on Russian soil. He told the BBC that such strikes, aimed at disrupting supply lines, were “completely legitimate”.
Hebei also denied a high-ranking Russian diplomat’s assertion that the risk of nuclear conflict was “serious” and “real”. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the remarks on Russian television, accusing the leaders of Ukraine and NATO of provoking Russia by “pouring oil on fire” with advanced weapons. Hebei said the possibility of nuclear war was “extremely small” because it would not be in the interest of any country.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that US diplomats will return to Ukraine this week. Pressed when the United States reopens its embassy operations there, Blinken said he expects diplomats to work first from Lviv before returning to Kyiv after assessing how to safely reopen the embassy there.
“We want to reopen our embassy and we are working to do so,” he said.
The United States moved its embassy operations to Poland days before the Russian invasion began on February 24. Idaho Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged speeding up the reopening.
“All of our European partners are already back there,” Rich said. “We need people on the ground to help Ukraine meet its needs immediately.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde criticized Russian officials for expelling four Swedish diplomats, calling the measure “unjustified and disproportionate”. “By expelling Western diplomats, Russia is intensifying its international isolation,” she said on Twitter. Three Russian diplomats were expelled from Sweden earlier this month.
“Sweden will respond appropriately to Russia’s unjustified actions,” Linde said.
On Monday, media in Finland and Sweden reported that both countries will apply next month to join NATO. One of Russia’s stated reasons for its invasion of Ukraine was concern about NATO expansion.
On Tuesday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby emphasized the Department of Defense’s interest in weakening Russia so that it could not threaten its geographic neighbors.
“Russia continues to isolate itself, its economy is in dire straits, its military is in many ways exhausted…They are a weaker army, and they are a weaker country now,” Kirby said in an interview with CNN. “We don’t want to see Russia able to launch this kind of invasion again in the future.”
Kirby also responded to comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on raising the specter of nuclear war, calling it “clearly unhelpful, not constructive and certainly not indicative of what a responsible nuclear power should do in the public sphere.”
– Ella Lee
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday that the United States and its allies “will continue to move heaven and earth” to support Ukraine’s efforts to fend off the Russian invasion. Austin met with officials from dozens of countries at the US air base in Ramstein in Germany to come up with ways to help the Ukrainian military. Among the guests was Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.
“The Russian invasion is untenable,” Austin said. “As well as Russian atrocities.”
He said the invasion was an attempt to “indulge in the ambitions of one man” – Russian President Vladimir Putin. More than 30 allies and partners have joined the United States in sending security assistance to Ukraine, pledging more than $5 billion in equipment.
“We all stand with you. That is why we are here today – to strengthen the arsenal of Ukrainian democracy,” he said. “Russia sought as the main objective to completely subjugate Ukraine, take away its sovereignty, take away its independence. And that failed.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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