Bucha massacre allegation levelled at Russia

“What happened in Bucha demands a new round of sanctions and very clear measures,” Macron added.

Those new sanctions should target coal and oil, said Macron, who faces a re-election battle this month.

Soldiers walk amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv on Sunday.

Soldiers walk amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv on Sunday.Credit:AP

The reports of atrocities are severe enough that European officials “would have to talk about halting gas supplies from Russia,” German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on public broadcaster ARD. “Such crimes must not go unanswered.”

Europe gets 40 per cent of its gas and 25 per cent of its oil from Russia, while such sales are the Kremlin’s main source of export revenue.

Governments have been scrambling to find ways to reduce that reliance. Estimates of the impact of a gas boycott on European countries vary but most involve a substantial loss of economic output.

For its part, Russia is temporarily enjoying a windfall as global prices surge due to anxiety over possible supply disruptions.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko called on nations to end Russian gas imports. He said they were funding the killings.

On Saturday, Lithuania announced it had stopped imports of Russian gas and urged other European governments to do the same.

“If we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too!” President Gitana Nauseda said on Twitter, referring to Russia as “the aggressor.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Monday that he was appalled by the reports of the atrocities in Bucha.

“The targeting of innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure are war crimes. Russia must and will be held accountable for the actions of its armed forces,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the images of dead civilians as “a punch in the gut”. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would step up sanctions.

“Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, adding that Western allies would agree further sanctions in the coming days.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that “we strongly condemn attacks on civilians”. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called reports of rape and other atrocities by Russian soldiers “beyond reprehensible.”

Russia’s foreign ministry said that footage of dead civilians in Bucha had been “ordered” by the United States as part of a plot to blame Russia.

“Who are the masters of provocation? Of course the United States and NATO,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an interview on state television late on Sunday.

Zakharova said the immediate Western outcry over the images of dead civilians indicated the story had been part of a plan to sully Russia’s reputation.

“In this case, it seems to me that the fact that these statements [about Russia] were made in the first minutes after these materials appeared leaves no doubt as to who ‘ordered’ this story.”

Ukrainian officials said bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around the capital, Kyiv, that were recaptured from Russian forces.

Associated Press journalists saw the bodies of at least 21 people in various spots around Bucha. One group of nine, all in civilian clothes, were scattered around a site that residents said Russian troops used as a base. They appeared to have been killed at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs, one was shot in the head, and another’s legs were bound.

A Ukrainian serviceman uses a piece of wood to check if the body of a man dressed in civilian clothing is booby-trapped, in Bucha.

A Ukrainian serviceman uses a piece of wood to check if the body of a man dressed in civilian clothing is booby-trapped, in Bucha.Credit:AP

Ukrainian officials laid the blame for the killings squarely at the feet of Russian troops, with the President calling them evidence of genocide. But Russia’s Defence Ministry rejected the accusations as “provocation”.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the mayor of the village of Motyzhyn, in the Kyiv region, was murdered while being held by Russian forces.

The images of the bodies of mayor Olga Sukhenko, her husband and son and that of a man believed to be a Ukrainian serviceman, half-buried in a pit are too distressing to show. The pit sits behind a plot of land with three houses where Russian forces had slept and the killings appeared to be executions from close range in retaliation for not collaborating with the occupiers.

Vereshchuk added there were 11 mayors and community heads in Russian captivity across Ukraine.

In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the allegedly targeted killings of civilians in towns the Russians occupied and called them “freaks who do not know how to do otherwise”. He warned that more atrocities may be revealed if Russian forces are driven out of other occupied areas.

Zelensky said a new package of Western sanctions on Russia was not enough of a punishment.

In Russia’s first public comment on the allegations, the Defence Ministry in Moscow described photos and videos from Bucha as “another staged performance by the Kyiv regime for the Western media”.

Ukraine’s foreign minister called on the International Criminal Court to collect evidence of what he called Russian war crimes, while the foreign ministers of France and Britain said their countries would support any such probe.

A journalist films footage of a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

A journalist films footage of a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv.Credit:

However, legal experts say a prosecution of Putin or other Russian leaders would face high hurdles and could take years.

Human Rights Watch said it had documented “several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations” in the Ukrainian regions of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv.

Fighting was reported on Sunday in several parts of Ukraine.

The governor of the eastern Donetsk region said shelling had continued throughout the night and day.

There was little sign of a breakthrough in efforts to negotiate an end to the war, although Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, said talks were due to resume on Monday via videoconference.

Medinsky said that while Ukraine was showing more realism by agreeing to be neutral, renouncing nuclear weapons, not joining a military bloc and refusing to host military bases, there had been no progress on other key Russia demands.

“I repeat again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED,” he said on Telegram.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has recognised declarations of independence by the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine which rose up against Kyiv’s rule.

Ukraine evacuated 2694 people from conflict zones in Mariupol and the region of Luhansk on Sunday, the Deputy Prime Minister said on Monday.

She said Ukrainian officials were in talks with Russia to allow several Red Cross buses to enter the city of Mariupol.

Elsewhere a series of explosions were heard in the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson and in the port city of Odesa. Heavy fighting continued in Mariupol, British military intelligence said. Russian shelling in Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, killed seven people and injured 34, the regional prosecutor’s office said. The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region said shelling had continued throughout the night and day, and described a “turbulent” situation in the area.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.