Satellite images reveal destruction in Ukrainian city of Mariupol

Satellite images reveal destruction in Ukrainian city of Mariupol

New satellite images reveal the destruction in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by months of Russian bombardment, as well as Moscow's mobilization of military hardware to assist its offensive in Ukraine's east.

Satellite imagery provided by Maxar Technologies, a US-based company, shows the rapid extension of a cemetery near the besieged port city of Mariupol.

A comparison of aerial images captured on March 22 and April 15 shows the expansion of graves at a cemetery in Vynohradne, about 12 kilometres east of Mariupol.

From April 1 to April 4th, additional trenches were excavated at the Vynohradne cemetery, Maxar Technologies said.

Local authorities in Mariupol said a new mass grave was found about 10 kilometres north of the city, which is key to the battle of Donbas.

It would be the third mass grave discovered in Russian-controlled areas near Mariupol in the past week.

Russia denies targeting civilians, even though it has been accused of war crimes in Ukraine.

Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC, a separate company, show heavy damage to the huge steelworks in Mariupol where Ukrainian fighters and some 1,000 civilians are thought to have been holed up.

Newly released images of the Azovstal steel plant - where the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol are hunkered down after months of Russian siege and bombardment - show massive holes in roofs and other damage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Tuesday to the UN and Red Cross involvement in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant at a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Moscow.

Mr Putin told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that there were no military operations underway in Mariupol and that Ukraine's government should take responsibility for the people holed up in the Azovstal plant.

Russian forces have abandoned their attempt to capture the capital Kyiv but are redoubling their efforts in the east of Ukraine.

Russia has intensified artillery barrages and airstrikes on Ukrainian positions in the industrial heartland known as the Donbas.

Images released by Planet Labs PBC also show Russian tanks and armoured vehicles amassing in the Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border.

Belgorod, the capital of the region, is located just 40 km north of the border and 80 km north of the major Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

A fuel depot on the outskirts of Belgorod was reported as having a fire that the Kremlin blamed for Ukrainian bombing.

Almost a quarter of Ukraine's 44 million population have been forced out of their homes, cities have been turned into rubble, and thousands of people have been killed or injured, many of them civilians.