Although Western allies have joined forces in the face of new evidence of atrocities in Ukraine, there has been disagreement over how to respond.
BUCHA, Kyiv Oblast – Moscow faced charges of global protest and war crimes on Monday after Russia’s expulsion from the outskirts of Kiev uncovered streets, buildings and courtyards strewn with the bodies of civilians who appeared to have been killed at close range.
The horrific images of beaten or cremated bodies left in the open or hastily buried have led to tougher sanctions against the Kremlin, especially calls for a halt to fuel imports from Russia. Germany and France reacted by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, claiming they were spies, and US President Joe Biden said Russian leader Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes.
“This man is cruel and what happened in Bucha is terrible,” Biden said, referring to the city, which has been the scene of some atrocities in the northwest of the capital.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has left the capital, Kiev, for his first public visit since the war began about six weeks ago to witness first-hand what he calls “genocide” and “war crimes” in Bucha.
In a video message last night, Zelensky promised that Ukraine would work with the European Union and the International Criminal Court to identify Russian fighters involved in any atrocities.
“The time will come when every Russian will learn the whole truth from his compatriots about who was killed, who ordered it, who turned a blind eye to the killings,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the scenes on the outskirts of Kyiv a “phased anti-Russian provocation.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the footage showed “video fraud and various signs of fraud.”
Russia has similarly denied Ukraine’s previous allegations of fabricated atrocities.
Ukrainian officials say the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in recent days in cities recaptured by Russian forces around Kyiv.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine called a room found in Bucha a “torture chamber.” The bodies of five men with their hands tied were found in the basement of a children’s sanatorium where civilians were tortured to death, the statement said.
Associated Press reporters found dozens of bodies in Bucha, including at least 13 in and around a building used by locals as a base for Russian troops. Three more bodies were found in the stairwell and a group of six people were burned together.
Many of the victims seen by the AP appear to have been shot at close range. Some were shot in the head. At least two people were handcuffed. A bag of food was lying next to a victim.
Among the dead witnessed by news agency journalists were bodies wrapped in black plastic and piled on one end of a mass grave in Bucha Church. Many of these victims were shot in cars or killed in explosions as they tried to flee the city. Father Andrii Galavin said that because the morgue was full and the cemetery was inaccessible, the church yard was the only place to keep the dead.
Tanya told Nedashkivs that she buried her husband in the garden in front of their building after being detained by the Russian military. His body was one of those left in a stairwell.
“Please, I beg you, do something!” he said. “I’m talking about a Ukrainian woman, a Ukrainian woman, a mother of two and a grandchild. Make peace on earth for all wives and mothers so that no one will be sad again. “
Another Bucha resident, Volodymyr Pilhutsky, said his neighbor, Pavlo Vlasenko, had been abducted by Russian soldiers because the military-style trousers he was wearing and the uniforms Vlasenko said belonged to his bodyguard’s son looked suspicious. A neighbor said Vlasenko’s body was later found with burn marks on it.
“I approached and saw that his body was burnt,” Pilhutsky said. “He was not just shot.”
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, insisted at a news conference on Monday that “no local people have suffered from any acts of violence” while Bucha was under Russian control.
However, high-resolution satellite imagery by commercial provider Maxar Technologies showed that most of the bodies remained in the open for weeks during Russian forces’ presence in Bucha. The New York Times has for the first time reported satellite images of the dead.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said more than 1,500 civilians had been evacuated from the besieged and destroyed port city of Mariupol in the south on Monday due to other incidents.
Vereshchuk said that during the fighting, the bus convoy, accompanied by the Red Cross, which had been suspended for days to deliver supplies and evacuate residents, was unable to re-enter the city.
European leaders and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights have joined the Ukrainians in condemning the bloodshed that followed the withdrawal of Russian troops from the area around Kyiv.
At the same time, many warned that the full scale of the horrors has not yet emerged.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said: “I can tell you without exaggeration, but with great regret, that the situation in Mariupol is worse than what we see in Bucha and other cities, towns and villages near Kyiv.”
Zelensky was scheduled to address a previously scheduled meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday. The British ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, said the session would focus on the killing of a large number of civilians in Ukraine.
Western and Ukrainian leaders have previously accused Russia of war crimes, and the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has already launched an investigation. However, recent news has strengthened the accusations.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbok said the images from Bucha “show the unimaginable brutality of the Russian leadership and those who follow its propaganda.” And French President Emmanuel Macron said Bucha had “clear evidence of war crimes” calling for new sanctions.
“I am against a new round of sanctions, especially on coal and gasoline. We must take action, “he told France-Inter radio.
Although united in anger, the European allies disagreed on how to respond. Although Poland has called on Europe to abandon Russian energy as soon as possible, Germany has said it will stick to its approach to phasing out coal and oil imports in the next few months.
The United States and its allies have sought to punish Russia for the occupation by imposing large-scale sanctions, but they still fear further damage to the global economy, which is recovering from the pandemic. Europe is under particular pressure to buy 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil from Russia.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described Russia under Putin as a “totalitarian-fascist state” and called for strong action that would “finally break Putin’s war machine.” “Would you negotiate with Hitler, Stalin, Paul Pot?” Morawiecki asked Macron.
Russia has recently withdrawn most of its forces from the capital after an attempt to seize Kiev was thwarted.
Instead, he sent troops and mercenaries into the east of the country in an intensified effort to seize control of Donbas, a predominantly Russian-speaking industrial region, including Mariupol, which has witnessed the heaviest battles and hardships of the war.
About two-thirds of Russian troops around Kyiv are either stationed in Belarus or going there, probably getting more supplies and additional forces, a senior U.S. defense official, who did not want to be named, said to discuss the assessment of intelligence.
The official said Russian forces were also relocating artillery and troops to try to seize the town of Izyum, on the main route to the Donbas.
The region’s governor, Vitaly Kim, said in a video message on social media that 11 people were killed in a shooting in the southern Russian city of Nikolaev on Monday. Kim said nine of the victims died at a public transport stop in the city center.
Zelensky demanded more weapons as Russia prepared for a new attack.
“If we already had what we needed – all these planes, tanks, artillery, anti-missile and anti-ship weapons – we could have saved thousands of lives,” he said.
Gena reported from the Ukrainian city of Motijin. Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and Associated Press journalists around the world contributed.
Ukraine: Hundreds of civilians have been found dead in cities around the capital
Source link Ukraine: Hundreds of civilians have been found dead in cities around the capital