This week's five things to know regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict

As the conflict between the two countries enters its second month, Ukraine continues to bear the brunt of the onslaught from Russia.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin's "military campaign" against the former Soviet state began, a fierce and determined display by Ukrainian forces repelled Russian troops.

Since then, Russia has withdrawn from Kiev's capital and redoubled its efforts in the Donbas' eastern sector.

Russian flames have devastated the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in particular, and satellite photographs suggest that mass graves in the area have grown.

To fight the Russian siege in the east, the US and its allies are scrambling to provide weapons to Ukrainian soldiers.

Here are five things to know about the battle this week.

Russia's territorial ambitions, according to Russian officials, stretch from Ukraine to Moldova.

Russian Central Military District Deputy Commander Rustam Minnekaev claimed on Friday that Russia has expansionist intentions beyond Ukraine.

According to Minnekaev, Russia is attempting to gain complete control of eastern and southern Ukraine in order to provide a route from Crimea to the Russian-occupied breakaway province of Moldova via the Dniester River.

"They will not stop. Russia's Central Military District Command has declared the next victim of Russian aggression," the Ukrainian Defense Ministry tweeted in response. "After gaining control of southern Ukraine, Russia plans to invade Moldova, where they say Russian-speaking people are being 'oppressed.'"

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the matter.

Moldova is not part of the NATO alliance; therefore, the alliance is not obligated to defend it under Article 5 of the agreement in the event of a Russian invasion.

However, it is unclear what punitive measures - if any - the West would take if Russian troops entered Moldova.

Officials Say Mariupol City Will Fall

Multiple officials commented this week that Mariupol is likely to fall to Russian forces soon.

Serhiy Volyna, commander of Ukraine's 36th Independent Marines, said in a video message Wednesday that Mariupol is "probably only a few days or hours away."

"The enemy units are dozens of times bigger than us, they dominate in the air, artillery, ground forces, equipment and tanks," he added.

Russian President Ramzan Kadyrov of the Chechen Republic said Thursday that Russian forces are expected to take control of Mariupol soon, nearly two months after the war began.

A European official also warned of deaths in Mariupol and the potential civilian casualties that could result from the losses.

"The Russians will continue to use artillery and bombing, while they will drive civilians out of the city. So, in the final analysis, we do expect the city of Mariupol to be completely destroyed, with many civilian casualties," the official said.

Mariupol will be the first major city captured by Russia in the fighting, with the Ukrainians claiming the Russians have committed war crimes in the area.

New mass grave found near Mariupol

Maxar Technologies has discovered two new mass graves near Mariupol this week.

The first satellite footage released Thursday shows a mass grave in Mankhush, Ukraine, more than 10 miles from Mariupol.

The cemetery has four straight rows, each 85 meters long, with more than 200 graves.

The space technology company released more images Friday showing another mass grave in Vinoradny, Ukraine.

Maxar said it found "several long ditches that have been/potentially become new graves." The site includes several 40-meter-long trenches.

The mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boychenko, who has left the city, said that the civilians still in Mariupol need to be fully evacuated after finding the mass graves.

"We need only one thing: the complete evacuation of the population. There are about 100,000 people left in Mariupol," he said.

Churchless Orthodox Easter

Amid the fighting, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians will likely not celebrate Easter in church Sunday.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader Metropolitan Epiphany said services should not be held in the besieged parts of the country.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the fighting should stop for Orthodox Easter because most Ukrainians and Russians are Orthodox Christians.

"Easter is a season of renewal, resurrection and hope," Guterres said Tuesday. "But this year, Holy Week is being observed under the cloud of a war that represents a complete negation of the Easter message."

He added: "Today, I am calling for a four-day humanitarian pause for Holy Week beginning on Holy Thursday and ending on Easter Sunday, April 24, in order to open a series of humanitarian corridors."

Metropolitan Epiphany said they do not believe Russia will observe the humanitarian pause and that the military could attack church services with shelling.

"It's hard to believe that this is really going to happen because the enemy is trying to completely destroy us," Metropolitan Epiphany said.

U.S. Offers More Aid to Ukraine

The Biden administration announced Thursday that it will provide another $800 million to Ukraine to help them defeat Russian forces.

The military aid package includes more tactical drones, dozens of howitzers, 144,000 rounds of howitzer ammunition and heavy artillery.

Overall, the U.S. has provided $4 billion in aid to Ukraine since last August, the Defense Department said.

In addition to the aid, a senior U.S. Defense Department official said U.S. and European forces have been training Ukrainian troops on how to use howitzers.

"Every American taxpayer, every member of our armed forces can be proud of our nation's generosity and the skills and services of our military that have helped arm and repel Russian aggression in Ukraine," President Joe Biden has said.

Biden also announced that Russian-affiliated ships will not be allowed to enter U.S. ports.

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Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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