Dozens of Ukrainians found in grave near kyiv as battle looms in east

Natalia Titova, 62, reacts as she shows her house, which was destroyed by Russian shelling, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Chernihiv, Ukraine April 9, 2022. Natalia and her family were staying at the sous -sol, “When the rocket hit our house, we ran down the street, it was very scary,” she said. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra Reuters_tickers

This content was published on April 10, 2022 – 08:37

By Elizabeth Piper

KYIV (Reuters) – A grave with dozens of civilians has been discovered in the village of Buzova near kyiv, a Ukrainian official said, the latest mass grave reported after Russian forces withdrew from areas north of the capital to concentrate their assault on the east.

Taras Didych, leader of the Dmytrivka community which includes Buzova, said the bodies were found in a ditch near a gas station. He added that the death toll had not yet been confirmed.

“Now we are coming back to life, but during the occupation we had our ‘hot spots’, many civilians died,” Didych told Ukrainian television on Saturday evening.

Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the information.

The growing number of civilian casualties has sparked widespread international condemnation and new sanctions, particularly for the hundreds of deaths in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv which until just over a week, was occupied by Russian forces.

Russia has dismissed war crimes allegations from Ukraine and Western countries. He denied targeting civilians in what he calls a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” his southern neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.

Russia has failed to take a major city since its February 24 invasion, but Ukraine says Russia is gathering forces in the east for a major assault and has urged people to flee.

Russia is seeking to establish a land corridor between Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and the eastern region of Donbass, which is partly held by Moscow-backed separatists, the UK Defense Ministry has said.

Russia’s armed forces are also looking to bolster their numbers with personnel demobilized since 2012, he said in a regular intelligence update on Sunday.

Some towns in the east are under heavy bombardment with tens of thousands unable to evacuate.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s use of force was “a catastrophe that will inevitably hit everyone”.

In a speech late Saturday, he renewed his call for Western allies for a full embargo on Russian energy products and more weapons for Ukraine.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Saturday and pledged armored vehicles and anti-ship missile systems, as well as additional support for World Bank loans.

Britain will also tighten its sanctions against Russia and move away from using Russian hydrocarbons, Johnson said.

The European Union adopted new sanctions against Russia on Friday, including import bans on coal, timber, chemicals and other products. Oil and gas imports from Russia remain untouched.

Johnson, speaking to reporters with Zelenskiy, said the support for Ukraine was aimed at ensuring that it “can never again be bullied, never again be blackmailed, never again be threatened with the same way”.

Johnson was the latest foreign leader to visit Kyiv after Russian forces withdrew from the region, marking a return to some degree of normalcy for the capital. Italy said it plans to reopen its embassy this month.

NINE TRAINS

But in the east, Ukrainian officials’ calls for civilians to flee were made more urgent by a missile attack Friday on a train station in the town of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, crowded with women, children and old people trying to get out.

Ukrainian officials said more than 50 people had been killed.

Russia has denied responsibility, saying the missiles used in the attack were used only by the Ukrainian military. The United States says it believes Russian forces were responsible.

Reuters was unable to verify details of the attack.

Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksander Honcharenko said he expected only 50,000 to 60,000 of the city’s 220,000 residents to remain as people flee.

Residents of the Luhansk region would have nine trains on Sunday to get out, the region’s governor, Serhiy Gaidai, wrote on the Telegram messaging service.

He later said that a school and an apartment building were bombed early on Sunday in the town of Sievierodonets.

“Luckily no casualties,” Gaidai wrote on Telegram.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the information.

Russia’s invasion forced about a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, turned cities into rubble, and killed or injured thousands.

Ukraine has banned all imports from Russia, a key trading partner before the war with annual imports valued at around $6 billion.

“The enemy’s budget will not receive these funds, which will reduce its potential for financing the war,” Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko wrote on Facebook.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Michael Perry and Tomasz Janowski; Editing by Robert Birsel and Frances Kerry)

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