The United Nations plans to send a team to Ukraine’s Isyum after reports of a mass grave

Ukrainian authorities said they had found a mass grave containing 450 bodies in a northeastern city recovered by Russian forces, describing it as evidence of war crimes committed by invaders in the lands they occupied months ago.
“Russia is leaving death behind everywhere and must take responsibility,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address.
The mass grave discovered in the former Russian front-line stronghold of Izyum will be the largest in Europe since the aftermath of the Balkan wars in the 1990s.

Ukrainian forces retook Izyum after thousands of Russian troops fled the area, leaving weapons and ammunition.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has said it wants to send a team to Isium to verify allegations of a mass grave.
“Our colleagues in Ukraine are following up on these allegations, and are aiming to organize an observation visit to Izium to determine the circumstances of the deaths of these individuals,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell said.
She added that the team hoped to visit the northeastern city “soon.”
Zelensky’s advisor, Mikhailo Podolyak, tweeted in English over a picture of a forest scattered with wooden crosses in a new muddy ground: “For months, rampant terror, violence, torture and mass murder have been in the occupied territories.”
“Anyone else wants to ‘freeze the war’ instead of sending in tanks? We have no right to leave people alone with evil.”
Russia did not immediately comment on the news of the mass grave. It has denied in the past that its soldiers committed atrocities. Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor.

In Kobyansk, a railroad junction city in the northeast, its partial takeover by Kyiv forces on Saturday cut Russia’s supply lines and led to a rapid collapse of its front lines in the region, small units of Ukrainian troops were securing a nearly deserted ghost town.

blood on the ground

A police station previously occupied by Russia has been hastily abandoned. Russian flags and a portrait of President Vladimir Putin lay on the floor amid broken glass. Records have been burned. Behind the iron doors of the station prison cells, there was blood on the floor and stains on the mattresses.
Three little pigs escaped from an abandoned corn and searched for food on the city street. Sarhi, a middle-aged man in a thin jacket, was thirsty for news.
“No electricity, no phones. If there was electricity, we could at least watch TV. If there were phones, we would have called our relatives,” he said.
“If only there wasn’t all this bombing with everyone in the basements.”

After a week of rapid gains in the northeast, Ukrainian officials sought to dampen expectations that they might continue to advance at this pace.

They say that Russian troops who fled the Kharkiv region are now digging and planning to defend territory in the neighboring Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.
“It is of course very encouraging to see that the Ukrainian armed forces have managed to retake territory as well as launch strikes behind Russian lines,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told BBC radio.
“At the same time, we have to understand that this is not the beginning of the end of the war. We must be prepared for a long time.”
Putin has yet to publicly comment on the battle setback his forces have suffered this month. Ukrainian officials say 9,000 square kilometers, an area roughly the size of the island of Cyprus, have been restored.
The speed of progress boosted Ukraine’s morale and bolstered its argument for more weapons from the Western allies.
In Washington, US President Joe Biden announced a new arms package worth A$897 million (US$600 million) for Ukraine, including High Mobility Missile Systems (HIMARS) and artillery shells.

The United States has sent about A$22.6 billion (US$15.1 billion) in security assistance to Kyiv since the Russian invasion on February 24.

bombing several areas

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces bombed Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and other towns in the northeast on Thursday.
More than 90 rockets and artillery shells have hit the neighboring Sumy region on the border with Russia, according to its governor, Dmytro Chivitsky.
On the Russian side, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, said that the Ukrainian army had bombed the town of Valoiki near the border.

“The anti-aircraft defenses have started working but there is some destruction on the ground,” he said on Telegram. This included a power substation that was extinguished and private homes and vehicles burned.

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the reports.
In Uzbekistan, Putin on Thursday met Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since the two men signed a “borderless” friendship agreement three weeks before the war began.
In his public remarks, Putin has given a rare hint of disagreement with Beijing over the war.
“We understand your questions and concerns about this. During today’s meeting, we will of course explain our position,” he told Mr. Xi.

Mr. Xi did not mention Ukraine in his public remarks, nor was it mentioned in a Chinese account of the meeting. China has so far taken a cautious path, condemning Western sanctions against Russia but stopping short of endorsing or aiding Moscow’s military efforts.

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