Dozens of Ukrainians found in grave near Kyiv as battle looms in east


A grave with dozens of Ukrainians civilians has been found in Buzova village near Kyiv, an official said, the latest reported mass grave to be discovered as Russian forces retreat from their offensive on the capital and focus their assault on the east.

Taras Didych, head of the Dmytrivka community that includes Buzova, told Ukrainian television that the bodies were found in a ditch near a petrol station. The number of dead had yet to be confirmed.

"Now we are returning to life but during the occupation we had our 'hotspots', many civilians died," Didych said on Saturday.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report.

Mounting civilian casualties have triggered a new wave of international condemnation, in particular over hundreds of deaths in the town of Bucha, to the northwest of Kyiv that until last week was occupied by Russian forces.

Ukraine and the West have accused Russian forces of war crimes in Bucha.

Russia has denied targetting civilians in what it calls a "special operation" to demilitarise its southern neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.

Russia has failed to take one major city since the start of the invasion on February 24 but Ukraine says Russia is gathering its forces in the east for a major assault and has urged people to flee.

Britain's defence ministry said Russia was seeking to establish a land corridor from Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and the eastern Donbas region, which is partly held by Moscow-backed separatists.

Some cities there are under heavy shelling with tens of thousands of people unable to evacuate.

"This will be a hard battle, we believe in this fight and our victory. We are ready to simultaneously fight and look for diplomatic ways to put an end to this war," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an address late on Saturday.

Zelenskiy said Russia's use of force was "a catastrophe that will inevitably hit everyone".

"Russian aggression was not intended to be limited to Ukraine alone ... the whole European project is a target for Russia," he said.

"Russia can still afford to live in illusions and bring new military forces and new equipment to our land. And that means we need even more sanctions and even more weapons for our state."

Zelenskiy called on the West to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy products and to supply Ukraine with more weapons.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Saturday and pledged armoured vehicles and anti-ship missile systems, along with additional support for World Bank loans.

Britain will also ratchet up its sanctions on Russia and move away from using Russian hydrocarbons.

Johnson, speaking to reporters with Zelenskiy, said support for Ukraine was intended to ensure it "can never be bullied again, never will be blackmailed again, never will be threatened in the same way again".

Johnson was the latest foreign leader to visit Kyiv after Russian forces pulled back from the area.

The visits are a sign that Kyiv is returning to some degree of normality.

Some residents are coming back and cafes and restaurants are reopening. Italy said it planned to re-open its embassy this month.

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