New satellite images reveal the destruction inflicted on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by months of Russian bombardment, as well as Moscow’s mobilization of military equipment to support its offensive in eastern Ukraine.
- Aerial footage shows excavation of new graves near Mariupol
- The heavily damaged steelworks in the city, the last stronghold of the resistance, are visible in separate satellite images
- Russian tanks and other vehicles are shown parked very close to the Ukrainian border
Satellite imagery provided by Maxar Technologies, a US-based company, shows the rapid expansion of a cemetery near the beleaguered port city of Mariupol.
A comparison of aerial images captured on March 22 and April 15 shows the expansion of graves at a cemetery in Vynohradne, about 12 kilometers east of Mariupol.
From April 1 to mid-April, additional trenches were dug at the Vynohradne cemetery, Maxar Technologies said.
Local authorities in Mariupol said a new mass grave had been identified about 10 kilometers north of the city, which is key to the Battle of Donbass.
It is believed to be the third mass grave discovered in Russian-controlled areas near Mariupol last week.
Russia has been accused of war crimes in Ukraine but denies targeting civilians.
Satellite images from separate company Planet Labs PBC show heavy damage to a huge steelworks in Mariupol where Ukrainian fighters and some 1,000 civilians are believed to be trapped.
Recently released images of the Azovstal steelworks – where Mariupol’s last Ukrainian defenders are dug in after months of Russian siege and bombardment – show massive holes in the roofs and other damage.
During a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Moscow on Tuesday (local time), Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed “in principle” to the involvement of the UN and the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal factory.
Earlier, Mr Putin told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that no military operations were underway in Mariupol and that the Ukrainian government should “take responsibility” for those locked in the Azovstal plant.
Russian forces have abandoned their attempt to capture the capital Kyiv but are stepping up efforts in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has sharply stepped up artillery barrages and airstrikes on Ukrainian positions in the industrial heartland known as Donbass.
Images released by Planet Labs PBC also appear to show Russian tanks and armored vehicles amassing in the Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border.
The region’s capital, Belgorod, lies just 40 km north of the border and 80 km north of the major Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
A fire was reported at a fuel depot on the outskirts of Belgorod earlier this month, which the Kremlin blamed on Ukrainian shelling.
About a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people were driven from their homes, cities turned to rubble and thousands of people were killed or injured, many of them civilians.