Residents forced to work in mass graves, mayor says

A third mass grave has been discovered near the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and the mayor claims Russian occupiers forced residents to work on the burials.

The trench, seen in satellite images, stretches more than 200 meters – and contains thousands of civilian bodies, Mayor Vadym Boychenko said.

“We know about these mass graves because these fascists – and I have no other words – involve the local population for the burial,” Boychenko told Radio Svoboda. “They told us you had to work hours (for) food, water. … People are forced to do that.”

Weeks of Russian bombardment devastated the community and reduced the once bustling city of more than 400,000 people to a small fraction of that number. Russian forces control most of the city; the holdouts are concentrated in and around the sprawling Azovstal steelworks. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia’s decision to besiege rather than attack the factory means many Russian units cannot be redeployed elsewhere in the country.

“Ukraine’s defense of Mariupol also exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness,” the British assessment said.

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Latest developments:

►The Metropolitan Opera of New York and the Opera Narodowa of Poland, in a gesture of solidarity with the victims of war, will bring together leading Ukrainian musicians within the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra for a European and American tour from 28 July to August 20.

►The Polish government announces that it is imposing sanctions on 50 Russian entities and individuals for Russia’s war against Ukraine.

►The European Union intends to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas to two thirds by the end of the year and to zero by 2028, the European Commissioner has told Economy Paolo Gentiloni in the daily Messaggero.

►Mariupol is attracting worldwide attention, but local officials say at least nine people have been killed and several others injured by Russian attacks elsewhere in eastern and southern Ukraine. Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said Russian forces “continue to deliberately fire on civilians and destroy critical infrastructure”.

►German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said her government had authorized the delivery of self-propelled armored anti-aircraft guns. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has faced growing pressure to approve the shipment of heavy weapons to Ukraine.

UK Defense Secretary says strikes on Russia ‘legitimate’

Ukraine has the right to use weapons supplied by the West to strike military targets on Russian soil, British Defense Secretary James Heappey has said. Such strikes aimed at disrupting supply lines are “completely legitimate”, he told the BBC.

Heappey also dismissed a claim by a senior Russian diplomat that the danger of nuclear conflict is “serious” and “real”. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the statements on Russian television, accusing Ukrainian leaders and NATO of provoking Russia by “pouring oil on the fire” with advanced weaponry. Heappey said the likelihood of nuclear war is “extremely low” because it would not be in any country’s interest.

Blinken: The United States begins the process of reopening the embassy in Ukraine

US diplomats are returning to Ukraine this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. Pressed when the United States will reopen its embassy operations there, Blinken said he expects diplomats to work in Lviv first before returning to Kyiv after assessing how the embassy can be reopened safely.

“We want our embassy to reopen and we are working on it,” he said.

The United States moved its embassy operations to Poland days before Russia began its invasion on February 24. Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a speedy reopening.

“All of our European partners are already back there,” Risch said. “We need people on the ground to help Ukraine meet its needs immediately.”

‘Unwarranted’: Sweden upset over Russia’s dismissal of four diplomats

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde blasted Russian officials for expelling four Swedish diplomats, calling the action “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 unwarranted actions,” Linde said.

On Monday, Finnish and Swedish media reported that the two nations would apply next month to join NATO. One of the reasons given by Russia for its invasion of Ukraine was concern over NATO expansion.

Pentagon wants to make sure Russia can’t ‘do this kind of invasion again’

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Tuesday reiterated the Defense Department’s interest in seeing Russia weakened so it cannot threaten its geographic neighbors.

“Russia continues to isolate itself, its economy is in tatters, its military has been depleted in many ways…it’s a weaker military, it’s a weaker state right now,” Kirby said in a statement. interview with CNN. “We don’t want to see Russia capable of carrying out this kind of invasion again in the future.”

Kirby also responded to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments on the specter of nuclear war, calling them “obviously unnecessary, unconstructive and certainly not indicative of what a responsible nuclear power should do in the sphere.” public”.

–Ella Lee

Defense Secretary Austin and his allies pledge support for Ukraine

The United States and its allies “will continue to move heaven and earth” in support of Ukraine’s efforts to repel the Russian invasion, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday. Austin met with officials from dozens of countries at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss ways to help the Ukrainian military. Among the guests was Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

“The invasion of Russia is indefensible,” Austin said. “Just like the Russian atrocities.”

He said the invasion was an effort to “indulge 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, committing more than $5 billion in equipment.

“We support you all. And that’s why we are here today – to strengthen the arsenal of Ukrainian democracy,” he said. “Russia sought as its main objective to completely subjugate Ukraine, to strip it of its sovereignty, to strip it of its independence. It failed.”

Residents forced to work in mass graves, mayor says

Contribute: The Associated Press

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