Ukraine accuses Russia of massacre, city strewn with bodies

As images of the bodies of people whom residents say were indiscriminately killed – began to emerge from Bucha, a wide range of European leaders condemned the atrocity and called for measures to be taken. tougher sanctions against Moscow. In a sign of the terrible reports that have shaken many leaders, the German defense minister even suggested that the European Union consider banning Russian gas imports.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said that so far, the bodies of 410 civilians have been found in towns in the Kyiv region, which were recently recaptured by Russian forces.

Associated Press journalists saw the bodies of at least 21 people in various locations around Bucha, northwest of the capital. A group of nine people, all dressed in civilian clothes, were scattered around a site that residents say the Russian military has used as a base. They seem to have been killed at close range. At least two people had their hands tied behind their backs, one was shot in the head, the other had their feet tied.

Ukrainian officials blame the killings in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv right at the feet of the Russian military, with the president calling them evidence of genocide. But the Russian Defense Ministry dismissed the accusations as “provocative”.

The discoveries follow Russia’s retreat from the area around the capital, territory that has seen intense fighting since troops invaded Ukraine from three directions on February 24. flooding from Belarus northward spent weeks trying to clear the way to Kyiv, but their advance stalled in the face of staunch defense from Ukrainian forces.

Moscow now says it is focusing its attack on the east of the country, but it is also besieging a city in the north and continuing to attack cities elsewhere in a battle that has killed thousands. and forced more than 4 million Ukrainians to leave their country. .

Russian troops overran Bucha in the early days of the invasion and stayed until March 30. When those forces disappeared, residents gave nasty accounts on Sunday, saying soldiers shot and killed civilians for no apparent reason.

One resident, who declined to be named out of fear for his safety, said that Russian troops had entered the building and taken people out of the basements where they were hiding, checking their phones for any any evidence of anti-Russian activity and take them. Go or shoot them.

Another resident, Hanna Herega, said the Russian military shot a neighbor out to get firewood to keep warm.

“He was going to get wood when suddenly they (the Russians) opened fire. They hit him a little above his heels, broke the bones and he fell,” Herega said. “Then they completely shot off his left leg, with the boot. Then they shot him all over (chest). And another shot that goes slightly below the temple. It was a controlled shot to the head.”

The AP also saw two bodies of a man and a woman, wrapped in plastic that residents said they had wrapped and placed in a shaft until a proper funeral could be arranged.

Residents who declined to be identified said the man was killed while leaving the house.

“He put his hand up, and they shot him,” he said.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, described the bodies lying on the streets of the suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel as well as Bucha as “scenes from a horror movie”. He alleges that some of the women found dead were raped before being killed and that the Russians then burned the bodies.

“This is genocide,” Zelenskyy told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

However, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the photos and videos of the corpse “have been managed by the Kyiv regime for the Western media.” It noted that the Bucha mayor did not mention any abuse a day after the Russian troops left.

The ministry was charged with saying “not a single civilian has faced any act of violence by the Russian military” in Bucha.

In Motyzhyn, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Kyiv, residents told the AP Sunday that Russian troops killed the town’s mayor, her husband and her son and threw their bodies into pits in the pine forest. behind the houses where the Russians slept. . Inside the pit, AP journalists found four bodies of people who appeared to have been shot at close range. The mayor’s husband had his hands behind his back, a piece of string nearby, and a piece of plastic wrapped around his eyes like a blindfold.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk confirmed that the mayor was killed while in the custody of Russian forces.

Some European leaders say murders in Kyiv . area number of war crimes. The US has previously said that it believes Russia has commit war crimesand Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the images of what happened near Kyiv “a punch in the gut” on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“It’s a brutality against civilians that we haven’t seen in Europe in decades,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on the same programme.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko called on countries to immediately stop importing Russian gas, saying they were funding the killings.

In return, the German defense minister said that the EU should consider doing that. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Sunday evening on German public broadcaster ARD that “will have to talk about stopping gas supplies from Russia. “Such crimes go unanswered.”

As Russian forces withdrew from the area around the capital, they launched sieges in other parts of the country. Russia says it is sending troops to Donbas in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years.

In that region, Mariupol, a port on the Sea of ​​Azov that has seen some of the greatest suffering of war, is still cut. About 100,000 civilians – less than a quarter of the pre-war population of 430,000 – are believed to be trapped there with little or no food, water, fuel and medicine.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday a team had been dispatched until Saturday to help evacuees who have yet to reach the city.

The Ukrainian authorities said that a few days ago, Russia had agreed to allow safe travel from the city, but similar agreements have been repeatedly broken due to continued shelling.

On Sunday morning, Russian forces launched missiles into the Black Sea port of Odesa, in southern Ukraine, creating plumes of black smoke that blanketed parts of the city. The Russian military said the targets were an oil processing plant and fuel depots.

The regional governor in Kharkiv on Sunday said Russian artillery and tanks launched more than 20 attacks on Ukraine’s second-largest city and its suburbs in the northeast of the country in the past day.

In a town southeast of the city, Oleh Synyehubov said Russian troops fired on a convoy of buses trying to evacuate patients from a hospital that was heavily damaged in shelling a day earlier. Synyehubov said about 70 patients needed to be removed from the hospital in Balakliya, but buses could not enter the town.

The head of Ukraine’s delegation to talks with Russia said Moscow’s negotiators had informally agreed to most of the draft proposals discussed during face-to-face talks in Istanbul this week, but no text. which certification is provided.

Qena reports from Motyzhyn, Ukraine. Yuras Karmanau of Lviv, Ukraine, and Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

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