Mariupol possesses strategic importance to Russia because it is situated between the Crimean Peninsula, which has been occupied by Moscow since 2014, and the breakaway Ukrainian regions in the eastern part of the country that has a pro-Russian separatist faction. As a result, the city has faced some of the most brutal Russian war tactics since the invasion began on Feb. 24.
“The killers are covering their tracks,” the council said in social media posts on Wednesday, adding that they are utilizing “mobile crematoriums.”
“Russia’s top leadership ordered the destruction of any evidence of crimes committed by its army in Mariupol,” the council added, referencing the widespread condemnation after the report of hundreds of civilians being buried in a mass grave and others being shot and killed with their wrists tied in Bucha. The reports sparked an outcry of war crimes allegations.
A senior U.S. defense official could not confirm the council’s allegations.
Prior to the reporting of the massacre in Bucha, Russian forces shelled a maternity hospital in Mariupol, bombed a Mariupol theater that had been serving as a shelter, even though inhabitants had spelled out the word “children” in Russian in the front and back of the facility, and bombed a school that was housing hundreds of people in the city.
As of Tuesday, more than 1,560 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, whereas more than 2,200 have been wounded, according to the United Nations, though it warns that the death toll is likely “considerably higher,” considering the difficulty of wartime casualty tallying.
It’s unclear how much higher the toll could be, but a spokesperson for Mariupol’s Mayor Vadym Boichenko said late last month that nearly 5,000 people, including about 210 children, have been killed in the city alone since Russia’s invasion.
There are investigators in…