Possible mass graves in the vicinity of Mariupol after Russia attacks in East

Officials in Ukraine claim that the satellite imagery shows new dirt mounds. This is a sign that Russia was waging war in Ukraine, and that Russia has launched a new offensive to seize the country's industrial heartland .

Possible mass graves in the vicinity of Mariupol after Russia attacks in East

According to a regional official, Russian forces attacked cities in the Donbas overnight. The attacks also interfered with efforts to evacuate civilians from one area. As Russian President Vladimir Putin attempts to save the 8-week-old war, widely regarded as a mistake and humanitarian disaster, the region is preparing for a decisive campaign.

The Russian leader claimed victory at the Battle for Mariupol on Thursday. However, an estimated 2,000 Ukrainians remain huddled in a steel mill in the city's strategic center. Putin instructed his troops to not storm the stronghold, but to seal it off -- apparently in order to free troops for the larger east-wide campaign.

Maxar Technologies published new satellite images hours later that showed more than 200 gravesin Mariupol. Local officials accused Russia of burying thousands.

Russia claimed Friday that the "second phase" was under way. However, instead of an all-out attack, scattered towns in eastern Russia have been subject to the terrifying thuds incoming shells which drive residents out of their homes in panic.

According to Mayor Vadym Liakh, Slovyansk was under attack at night. He urged residents to evacuate and announced that a convoy would be organized for Friday. According to Luhansk Gov, Russian fire stopped attempts to evacuate civilians from Rubizhne. Serhiy Haidai.

Kharkiv was also subject to more intense shelling overnight. This northeastern city, which is not in the Donbas but has been hit repeatedly in recent times, was also under attack.

The campaign in Donbas, if successful, would give Putin a crucial piece of the country. It would also be a desperately needed victory for the Russian people to celebrate amid the increasing casualties from war and the economic hardship wrought by Western sanctions.

Analysts say that the Russian forces have not made any significant breakthroughs in this area. According to a senior U.S. defense officer, the Ukrainians are hindering Russia's push south from Izyum (which is outside the Donbas).

According to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (which has been chronicling the campaign daily), "Russian forces continued offensive operation in eastern Ukraine but made only marginal wins."

A Russian official reiterated Friday that it wants to fully control eastern and southern Ukraine. He said that the former would allow for land access to Crimea which Russia took in 2014. Rustam Minnekayev is a top military official who said that such a move would also allow for access to Moldova. Russia supports Transnistria, which was an independent region. Officials from Moldova are closely watching Putin's actions on Ukraine.

Thursday's pledge by the U.S. was to significantly increase the delivery of artillery guns and other weapons to Ukraine in support of the growing conflict in the Donbas.

The eastern assault was largely based on the victory at Mariupol. In a late Thursday assessment, the institute stated that Russian forces in Mariupol were likely to be heavily damaged and therefore Moscow would have difficulty redeploying them to the larger east campaign.

Mariupol has witnessed the most severe sufferings of the war. Satellite images released Thursday suggested even more.

The images show long rows of dirt mounds stretching out from a Manhush cemetery, just outside Mariupol. Russian officials were accused of mass-burying as many as 9,000 civilians from Ukraine in order to hide the massacre that took place in the port city. This was in response to the siege of Mariupol since the beginning of the war.

"The bodies were being brought by truckloads and being dumped in mounds," Piotr Andreiuchchenko, an aide of Mariupol's mayor said on Telegram.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to the satellite images. After three weeks of Russian troops withdrawing, mass graves and hundreds upon thousands of civilians were found in Bucha and other Kyiv towns. Russian officials denied that any civilians had been killed and falsely claimed that the atrocities were being committed by Ukraine.

Friday's condemnation of the Russian invasion by the U.N. Human Rights office was strong.

Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner to Human Rights, stated that "over these eight weeks international humanitarian law was not merely ignored but apparently tossed aside."

Many people fleeing Mariupol described living in terrible conditions. Yuriy Lulac and Polina Lulac claimed that they lived in a basement for nearly two months with at most a dozen others, with little water and very little food.

"What was going on there was so terrible that you can't explain it," stated Yuriy Lulac. He used a derogatory term for the Russian troops and said they were "killing people to nothing."

"Mariupol has been extinguished. He said that there were only graves and crosses in the courtyards.

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