According to Ukrainian authorities, on Tuesday, workers excavating the rubble of an apartment building in Mariupol discovered 200 bodies in the basement. This is a grim reminder of the horrors still uncovered in the ruined city, which has seen some of the worst sufferings of the three-month-old war.
The remains were rotting, and a foul odor filled the area, according to the mayor's assistant, Petro Andryushchenko. It is unknown when they were first discovered.
Mariupol, perched on the Sea of Azov, was repeatedly bombarded during a months-long siege that concluded last Thursday after approximately 2,500 Ukrainian fighters abandoned a steel mill where they had made their final stand.
The remainder of the city, where an estimated 100,000 people out of the city's prewar population of 450,000 remain without food, water, heat, or power, is held by Russian forces.
According to Ukrainian authorities, at least 21,000 people have been slaughtered, who accuse Russia of concealing the magnitude of the atrocities by bringing in mobile cremation equipment. In addition, they claim that some of the deceased were interred in mass graves. Also targeted were a maternity facility and a theater where civilians were taking refuge.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Russians of committing "total war" to inflict as much death and destruction on his country as possible.
"Indeed, such a war has not occurred on the European continent in 77 years," Zelensky told Ukrainians Monday evening, on the war's three-month anniversary.
At the outset of the conflict, it was believed that Russia could overrun the country in days or weeks. However, solid Ukrainian resistance has slowed down Moscow's forces, aided by Western armaments.
The Kremlin is now concentrating on the eastern industrial heartland of the Donbas, where separatists backed by Moscow have fought Ukrainian soldiers for eight years and held territory.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, this conflict had already killed 14,000 lives, and even after moving their focus there, Moscow's troops have struggled to gain ground.
Russian forces have accelerated their efforts to encircle and take Sievierodonetsk and neighboring cities, the only portion of the Luhansk region of the Donbas still under Ukrainian government control, according to British military authorities.
Despite fierce Ukrainian resistance behind dug-in positions, Russian forces have gained "some localized successes," according to the U.K. Defense Ministry. However, the fall of Sievierodonetsk and the surrounding area may present logistical challenges for the Russians.
"Should the Donbas front line shift further west, Russian lines of communication will be extended, and its forces will likely face additional logistical resupply difficulties," the ministry stated.
On Tuesday, two senior Russian officials conceded that Moscow's advance had been slower than anticipated, but they assured that the attack would achieve its objectives.
In an interview, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, stated that the Russian government "does not chase deadlines."
In the meantime, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told a conference of a Russia-led defense alliance of former Soviet states that Moscow is purposefully slowing down its offensive to let people of surrounding cities flee, despite regularly striking civilian targets.
As Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, recovers from weeks of continuous bombing; citizens lined up this week to get rations of flour, pasta, sugar, and other essentials.
Galina Kolembed, the coordinator of the assistance distribution facility, told The Associated Press that after Russian forces retreated to focus on the Donbas, an increasing number of residents are returning to the city.
Kolembed stated that the center provides meals to over one thousand individuals every day, and that number is growing. "Many of them have young children, and they spend their money on the children, so they require assistance with food," she explained.
In the meantime, Kirill Stremousov, a Russian-installed official in the Ukrainian region of Kherson, stated that the pro-Kremlin government would request Moscow to establish a military facility there.
Stremousov earlier stated that the region would petition the Kremlin to join Russia.