Ukraine’s Defense Ministry tweeted on Friday that Ukrainian authorities had discovered 440 graves in a mass grave in the eastern city of Izium, which was recently recaptured from Russian troops.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier Ukrainian and international journalists will visit the site to see what they find. “We want the world to know what really happened and what the Russian occupation led to,” Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications said on Thursday that some of the graves found in Izium were “fresh” and that the bodies buried there were “mainly civilians.”
Izium came under heavy Russian artillery fire in April, The city, near the border of the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, became an important hub for the invading army during the five-month occupation.
Ukrainian troops regained control of the city on Saturday, dealing a strategic blow to Russia’s military offensive in the east.
Photos released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on Friday showed numerous crosses on mounds and a larger pit dug into the forest floor in a forested area near Izium.
In remarks on Thursday, Zelensky said Russia must be held responsible for the deaths there and in other cities where large numbers of bodies were found.
“Butcha, Mariupol, and unfortunately, Izium now… Russia is dying everywhere. And must be held accountable for it. The world must hold Russia truly responsible for this war. We will Do your best for this,” he added.
The chief police investigator in the Kharkiv region, Sershi Borvinov, told Sky News earlier that there may be other mass graves in the Kharkiv region.
Speaking specifically of the 440 graves, Bolvinov told Sky News that excavations to date have shown the victims died from a variety of causes.
“We know that some people were killed (by gunshots), some people were killed by artillery fire, so-called mine explosion trauma. Some people were killed by air strikes. In addition, we have a lot of information on the bodies that have not yet been determined. Therefore, the cause of death will be during the investigation. Sure,” Sky News quoted Polvinov as saying.
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Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Missing Persons Commissioner Ole Kotenko said on Telegram that the entire region was carefully searching for the remains of “fallen heroes”.
“The biggest problem is that some areas are still being mined. Still, we continue to work because we have to bring every hero home so that families can remember the soldiers who died for Ukraine as soon as possible and in a dignified way,” Kotenko said. Say.
Zelensky visited Izium on Wednesday and told reporters he was “shocked” by the number of “destroyed buildings” and “dead people” left behind by the Russian occupation.
Moscow is using Izium as a launch pad for southward attacks on the Donetsk region and Kupyansk, about 48 kilometers (30 miles) north of Izium, and as a rail hub to resupply its troops .
Zelensky also thanked foreign governments for sending investigators and prosecutors to investigate alleged human rights abuses by the Ukrainian occupying forces, adding that all occupied territories will eventually return.
The Ukrainian army has been conducting an ongoing military offensive, especially in the northeastern and southern regions of the country.
Zelensky said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces have liberated 8,000 square kilometers (3,088 square miles) of territory so far this month, about half of which are still under “stabilization” measures.