Ukraine war: Mass grave discovered near Kyiv as eastern regions prepare for "hell"
Kyiv, Ukraine - Dozens of Ukrainian civilians were found dead in a mass grave in Buzova, a village west of Kyiv, following the withdrawal of Russian troops.
Local leader Taras Didych told Ukrainian TV that the bodies were found in a pit near a petrol station.
Bodies had also been found in a dozen shelled cars on the main road from Kyiv to Zhytomyr, which goes through Buzova, he said.
Russian troops recently withdrew from the area around Kyiv after spending the first few weeks of the war trying unsuccessfully to blockade the city.
The United Nations has been able to confirm more than 1,700 civilian deaths. But, like the government in Kyiv, the UN assumes the actual toll is far higher.
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova accused Russia of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in all regions of the country, and called Vladimir Putin the "main war criminal of the 21st century."
Ukraine identified 5,600 cases of alleged war crimes with 500 suspects, she said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar says Russia continued to work on its minimum goal of taking eastern Ukraine, according to the UNIAN news agency.
The general staff of the Ukrainian army expects a new push by the Russian forces to completely take over eastern Ukraine, with new troops from other parts of Russia currently being brought to the borders.
The focus of the next Russian attacks is expected to be near Kharkiv in the north-east and Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast, according to the generals as reported by UNIAN.
Eastern offensive "getting much worse"
The governor of the embattled Luhansk region also said he assumes that the Russians will soon launch a major offensive in eastern Ukraine.
"It is a matter of days," Serhiy Hayday told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. "They are repositioning themselves on the border and continue to bomb us. They don't know morality anymore: they raze hospitals, schools and houses to the ground."
Moscow-backed separatists have controlled parts of the south-eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, known collectively as the Donbass, for almost eight years.
Putin recognized the self-proclaimed "people's republics" of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states shortly before invading Ukraine.
Asked what lay ahead now, Hayday said: "Hell." He referenced Bucha and Mariupol, where horrific attacks and war crimes have been observed for weeks.
"In our area, it is getting much worse," the governor said. Unlike in other parts of the country, he said, there are hardly any bunkers left in Luhansk for Ukrainians to seek shelter.
"We are hiding in the basements. I am trying to convince all my fellow citizens to leave here," he told the newspaper.
In the Donetsk region at least five civilians have been killed and five others injured in shelling, according to the local military administration.
At least two other people were killed after Russian troops shelled settlements in Kharkiv, Ukrainian authorities said.
Humanitarian corridors planned for Monday
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government said it has set up nine humanitarian escape routes on Monday to enable civilians to flee eastern cities.
A route has been set up to allow private vehicles to travel from Mariupol in the south to the city of Zaporizhzhia, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram. Mariupol, one of the places hardest hit by the invasion, has been under siege for weeks, with the remaining civilians there unable to access food, water, or medicine.
Vereshchuk said escape routes for private vehicles would also be established from the city of Berdyansk and two others in the region.
There are also five corridors leading from the contested areas in the Luhansk region to the city of Bachmut, Vereshchuk wrote. Moscow-backed separatists have controlled parts of the south-eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, known collectively as the Donbass, for almost eight years.
Verkhchuk said around 2,800 civilians had managed to flee regions where fighting is under way on Sunday.
Elsewhere, the airport of Dnipro, a major industrial hub, was destroyed by Russian rocket fire, according to local administrator Valentin Reznichenko. He said that efforts were under way to count the victims.
The Russian forces are seeking to boost their troop levels with personnel who have been discharged from military service since 2012, the British Defense Ministry said on Sunday in its regular intelligence update.
Efforts to gain more combat power include trying to recruit forces in the Russian separatist-controlled Transnistria region of Moldova, it said.
It is unclear how many Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. A Kremlin spokesperson conceded on Thursday that Russia had suffered a "significant" number of troop deaths.
In the West, according to the BBC, it is assumed that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed so far.
Cover photo: REUTERS