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Mass grave seen near Mariupol as Biden announces more aid for ‘critical window’ of war

On April 21, President Biden announced a new round of American support for Ukraine to fight against Russia. (Video: The Washington Post)

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Newly surfaced images of a sprawling mass grave near Mariupol underscored the scope of the devastation in the besieged port city, where on Thursday just a few thousand Ukrainians were holding out against a Russian bombardment, refusing repeated demands to surrender, as President Biden promised Kyiv an additional $800 million in military assistance and said the war was entering “a critical window.”

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Ukrainian officials estimate that 20,000 civilians have died in Mariupol since the invasion began, and they said the new gravesite appears to be significantly larger than the plots discovered after Russian troops retreated from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the offensive in Mariupol a success and ordered a blockade of the steel plant where Ukrainian fighters are staging their last stand.

The latest round of U.S. military aid comes at a crucial time, with Ukraine continuing to battle a renewed Russian assault in the Donbas region in the east. The package, which represents a marked increase in U.S. shipments of artillery, will include nearly 150,000 rounds of ammunition and more than 120 drones, defense officials said.

What else to know

  • Moscow has made “minor gains” in eastern Ukraine, military analysts said, capturing parts of small but key towns.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host a summit in Germany next week to build support for Ukraine’s defense and security needs, the Pentagon said.
  • The Biden administration rolled out plans Thursday to expedite the arrival of Ukrainian refugees.
  • For the first time in weeks, a convoy of civilians escaped Mariupol, with four buses and a dozen private cars reaching Zaporizhzhia.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.
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General assignment editor focusing on breaking news and audience growth
In his nightly speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Mariupol “continues to resist Russia. Despite everything the occupiers say.”
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Headshot of Sammy Westfall
Assistant Editor on the Foreign desk
“In Mariupol, the situation is only getting worse,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote in a Thursday tweet, adding that “tens of thousands of civilians are trapped.” He reiterated his call for Russia to respect international humanitarian law, allow residents to leave the city and allow humanitarian aid to enter.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on Sept. 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia.” Follow our live updates here.

The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Annexation referendums: Staged referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place from Sept. 23 to 27 in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another staged referendum will be held by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson starting Friday.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.