Mass Graves in Ukraine: Ukrainian officials found a mass grave near Izium after recapturing the northeastern city from Russians, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation.
There are 440 bodies in the mass grave, Ukrainian police said.
“A mass grave of people was found in Izium in the Kharkiv region. The necessary procedures have already begun there. More information – clear, verifiable information – should be available tomorrow,” Zelensky said.
“Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izium. Russia leaves death everywhere, and it must be held accountable for it. The world must bring Russia to real responsibility for this war,” he added, mentioning other Ukrainian cities where Russians murdered civilians.
Reporters from the AP said they saw a mass grave that contained the bodies of 17 soldiers. Hundreds more graves were marked only with crosses.
Mass Graves in Ukraine: Forensic Examinations to Follow
Serhiy Bolvinov, the chief police investigator for the Kharkiv region, said that all the bodies found in the mass grave will be forensically examined.
“I can say it is one of the largest burial sites in a big town in liberated (areas)… 440 bodies were buried in one place,” Bolvinov said. However, he did state that not all of the dead were killed by troops inside the town.
“Some died because of artillery fire … some died because of air strikes,” he added.
“After the counteroffensive, we have found a few burial sites of local residents [across the Kharkiv region] that were murdered by the Russian military,” said Oleksandr Filchakov, Kharkiv region’s chief prosecutor. “Some of them even tortured. As for Izium, well, we have just started.”
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, traveled to Izium with President Zelensky.
“We were shocked to see the destruction of the city,” Gerashchenko said, speaking through an interpreter. “We have found already, for now, around 1,000 dead bodies, so we must say that this tragedy is even worse than the tragedy in Bucha,” he added, recalling the town outside of Kyiv where Russian troops committed atrocities such as rape, torture, and the murders of at least 458 civilians.
The U.S. Department of State has reported that the so-called “filtration camps” Russia uses for processing civilians probably hold several mass grave sites in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region.
War in Ukraine: Russia Recruiting in the Prisons
The Wagner Group is openly recruiting in Russia’s prison systems. The private military company promises convicts that if they serve six months in Ukraine, they will be given their freedom.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner group, was filmed inside one prison recruiting prisoners. Known as “Putin’s Chef,” Prigozhin has denied having anything to do with the company in the past. Many Russian citizens protested the recruitment of prisoners, but Prigozhin had a response.
“It’s either private military companies and prisoners or your children – decide for yourself.”
Prigozhin was filmed giving his pitch to the convicts. “If you serve six months, you are free,” he said. But he added to anyone thinking about deserting, “If you arrive in Ukraine and decide it’s not for you, we will execute you.”
Prigozhin then gave the men five minutes to decide whether to serve or resume their prison sentences. Part of the prisoners’ contracts states that they must agree not to consume drugs or alcohol and are forbidden from looting and engaging in sexual contact with local women, men, or livestock.
Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.