Ukraine war: Russia accused of using ‘mobile crematoria’ in besieged Mariupol

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A view of the Mariupol theatre damaged during fighting in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022


Russia’s war in Ukraine is taking on a new dimension with growing evidence of human rights atrocities by Vladimir Putin’s troops, accused of killing civilians in cold blood as they retreated from the Kyiv region.

Despite Moscow denying the accusations, they are fears similar massacres could be discovered in the coming days.

Follow our latest updates from the war in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player, above.


Wednesday’s key points:

    Mariupol City Council claims Russia is trying to hide evidence of civilian deaths by deploying mobile crematoria to burn bodies in the besieged city.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon by targeting food supplies, in a speech to Irish MPs.The US, with the EU and the G7, is looking to impose a ban on all new investment in Russia as part of new sanctions to be adopted on Wednesday.The EU has promised a fifth round of new sanctions “this week”, hitting the energy sector for the first time. The bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has told the European Parliament that the EU has spent 35 times more on buying Russian fuel since the start of the war than it has given Ukraine in weapons.EU Council President Charles Michel has said EU countries should give asylum to Russian deserters.Zelenskyy told the UN Security Council on Tuesday the Russian military must be brought to justice for war crimes, comparing Russian forces to “terrorists” over the massacre of civilians in Bucha and warning of more atrocities. Russia again offered a blanket denial, telling the UN the atrocities were “staged”, a claim debunked by satellite imagery and a catalogue of witness testimony.NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Wednesday as allies look to step up military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.


Orban ‘suggests ceasefire’ in talks with Putin

Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on Wednesday that he had held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he is close, and had offered him a meeting with the leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany.

“I proposed to President Putin to declare an immediate ceasefire,” he told reporters, adding that he had offered to come to Budapest for talks with the leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany. “He said yes, but with conditions.”



EU spending ’35 times more’ on Russian fuel than Ukraine arms donations — Borrell

“Zelenskyy needs less applause and more help,” the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell has said in a speech to the European Parliament.

Speaking in Spanish, the EU’s top foreign affairs representative told MEPs that the Ukrainian president “needs us to tell him less often that he is a hero and give him more weapons to fight”.

He went on to give this stark statistic comparing the bloc’s contributions of weapons to Ukraine since the start of the war, to Europe’s dependence on Russian energy:

“We have given Ukraine €1 billion. That may sound like a lot, but €1 billion is what we pay Putin every day for the energy he supplies to us. Since the war began we have given them €35 billion  compare that with the 1 billion we have given them to arm the Ukrainians.”


Russia ‘using mobile crematoriums’ to hide Mariupol atrocities 

Russian “killers are covering their tracks” in Mariupol, the city council claims in a statement published on Telegram, saying “Russian mobile crematoria have started operating” in the besieged city.

It quotes eyewitnesses as saying that “special brigades” are collecting and burning “the bodies of Mariupol residents murdered and killed as a result of the Russian invasion”.

Claiming that Russia’s top military commanders ordered the destruction of evidence, the council says the real number of fatalities could far exceed last week’s cautious estimates of 5,000 deaths and run into “tens of thousands of civilians”.

It argues that this explains Russia’s reluctance to allow in Turkish and other initiatives to evacuate Mariupol. 

“The world has not seen the scale of the tragedy in Mariupol since the Nazi concentration camps. The racists turned our whole city into a death camp. Unfortunately, the eerie analogy is gaining more and more confirmation. This is no longer Chechnya or Aleppo. This is the new Auschwitz,” the statement says.


Ukraine’s foreign minister warns the West


Netherlands blocks 14 yachts from leaving country due to sanctions

The Dutch government said on Wednesday it is currently preventing 14 yachts -including 12 that were under construction – from leaving the country due to sanctions on Russia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the statement in a letter to parliament, updating lawmakers on the enforcement of sanctions after criticism that the Netherlands had lagged behind other European countries in enforcement and seizures.

Wednesday’s letter said that while no “superyachts” are anchored in Dutch territories, including Caribbean islands like St. Maarten, the 12 yachts under construction for Russian owners “cannot at this moment be delivered due to the current export measures” and their ownership structures are being investigated.



Luhansk civilians urged to leave area ‘while it is safe’

Authorities in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk urged civilians on Wednesday to evacuate “while it is safe,” warning that Russian bombardments could cut off escape routes.

Ukraine has said Russian troops that invaded on Feb. 24 are regrouping and preparing for a new offensive in the Donbas area, which includes Luhansk.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in online comments that Ukraine aimed to open 11 humanitarian corridors on Wednesday to evacuate civilians.

“We will take everyone out if the Russians allow us to get to the meeting places (for evacuation). Because, as you can see, they don’t always observe ceasefires,” the Luhansk region governor, Serhiy Gaidai, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“I appeal to every resident of the Luhansk region – evacuate while it is safe … While there are buses and trains – take this opportunity. “




Zelenskyy accuses Moscow of weaponising hunger

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon of war by deliberately targeting Ukraine’s essential food supplies.

In an address to Irish lawmakers Wednesday, Zelenskyy said Russian forces “are destroying things that are sustaining livelihoods” including food storage depots, blocking ports so Ukraine could not export food and “putting mines into the fields.”

“For them hunger is also a weapon, a weapon against us ordinary people,” he said, accusing Russia of “deliberately provoking a food crisis” in Ukraine, a major global producer of staples including wheat and sunflower oil.

He said it would have international ramifications, because “there will be a shortage of food and the prices will go up, and this is reality for the millions of people who are hungry, and it will be more difficult for them to feed their families.”

Zelenskyy spoke by video to a joint session of Ireland’s two houses of parliament, the latest in a string of international addresses he has used to rally support for Ukraine.



Hungary summons Ukraine ambassador in ongoing war of words

Hungary’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Ukrainian ambassador on Wednesday after days of the two countries’ officials trading barbs over Hungary’s position on the war.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wrote in a social media post on Wednesday that “we condemn military aggression, we stand by Ukraine’s sovereignty,” but that “this is not our war, so we want to and will stay out of it.”

Hungary’s government has refused to supply weapons to Ukraine or allow their transfer across the Hungarian-Ukrainian border, and has fought against applying sanctions on Russian energy imports.

That position has prompted criticisms of Hungary’s government by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy, who on Monday said in an address on Ukrainian television that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban would need to choose between Moscow and “the other world” of the West.

Orban, who won a landslide victory in Hungarian elections on Sunday, in a victory speech depicted Zelenskyy as one of the opponents he and his right-wing party had defeated.

On Tuesday, Szijjarto called on Ukrainian leaders to “stop insulting Hungary and to take note of the will of the Hungarian people.”


For a summary of Tuesday’s developments, please click here.

Additional sources • Reuters


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