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Zelensky accuses Russia of war crimes, criticizes UN inactivity


With evidence of atrocities on the outskirts of Kyiv and Russian forces preparing for a new offensive further east, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivered a scathing speech to the United Nations. on Tuesday, accusing Russia of a horrifying disaster and questioning whether a world body that does nothing to prevent a war serves any purpose.

Speaking via video link to the United Nations Security Council, he compared Russian forces to the Islamic State, called for a Nuremberg-like war crimes tribunal and vented his bitter disappointment, upon learning of it. that the council – where Russia is one of five permanent members with veto power – will do nothing but talk.

“Where is the security that the Security Council needs to ensure?” Mr. Zelensky said, raising the question of whether Russia deserves a seat on the council. “Are you ready to shut down the UN? Do you think the days of international law are over? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.”

The room fell silent as a short video provided by Mr Zelensky’s government showed some of the hundreds of corpses found scattered around the city of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, after Russian forces withdrew. retreated last week – the charred bodies of civilians, including children. Some of the victims had their hands tied and were shot in the head.

Mr. Zelensky said that in Bucha, “they killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the corpses.” People “were crushed by a tank while sitting in a vehicle in the middle of the road”, he added, asserting that “women are raped and killed in front of their children; Their tongues were pulled out. “

China refrained from criticizing Russia during Tuesday’s session, saying the Security Council should wait until investigations determine the truth in Ukraine. A rising global power, China has drawn closer to Russia in recent years, united by a shared aversion to the United States. The divisions over the war appear to have remained unchanged since February 26, when 11 of the 15 Security Council members voted for a resolution condemning Russian aggression, Russia vetoed the measure and three others abstained – China, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, reiterated his government’s statement – refute with lots of evidence – the atrocities in Bucha were faked, or did not happen when the Russians held the city. He made several other unsupported claims, including the false claim that in Ukraine – where the freely elected president was a Jew who had lost family members in the Holocaust – Nazi Germany is “running the program”.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin launched war on Ukraine on February 24, his military was bogged down on a number of fronts in the face of logistical setbacks and unexpected fierce resistance from Russia. Ukraine. Russian forces spent weeks shelling and occupying cities and towns in northern Ukraine, where they suffered heavy losses when they failed to capture the capital, Kyiv. Last week, they withdrew from that part of the country, bracing for what Russian officials and foreign analysts say will shift focus to eastern Ukraine.

According to a report released on Tuesday of the Institute for the Study of War, based in Washington.

The revolt over executions apparently discovered in Bucha deepened Russia’s economic isolation, despite its denial of responsibility.

The United States has begun blocking Russia from paying its debt using dollars held in American banks, a move designed to deplete its international currency reserves and potentially push Russia to the brink of death. the first foreign currency default in a century.

And as early as Wednesday, the Biden administration is expected to announce additional sanctions against Russia for the killings of Ukrainian citizens, according to a person familiar with the unauthorized plans. detail declaration. The administration will expand existing sanctions against Sberbank, the largest financial institution in Russia, and implement sanctions against Alfa Bank, one of the largest private lenders. this country. The authorities also plan to announce sanctions against the adult children of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.

The Biden administration has also authorized the shipment of an additional $100 million shipment of military hardware that will be drawn from existing Defense Department stockpiles, the Pentagon announced in an email to reporters late Tuesday night. Tuesday. This comes days after an additional $300 million defense aid was announced on April 1.

And the European Union has taken an important step in overcoming resistance to fuel import restrictions from Russia, on which its member states depend heavily. The European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, has proposed cutting Russian coal imports – oil and natural gas are still hotly debated – and banning Russian ships from its ports. EU as part of a new round of sanctions.

The measures, which require unanimous approval, are expected to go to a vote by EU ambassadors on Wednesday. Diplomats said the sanctions package would target Putin’s two daughters. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and the EU foreign minister, Josep Borrell Fontelles, announced plans to visit Kyiv this week and meet with Mr. Zelensky.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said it, along with Kyiv police, discovered a so-called “torture chamber” in Bucha, where Russian forces left behind the bodies of five men with their hands tied, who had been tortured. torture and kill.

Mr. Zelensky reinforced a point that United Nations officials have repeatedly made: The true extent of Ukraine’s destruction and casualties is unknown but far greater than has been documented, because officials Outside observers have been unable to reach some of the worst-hit areas. “Now the world can see what Russia did in Bucha, but the world has not yet seen what they did in other parts of our country,” Mr. Zelensky said.

New York Times journalists on Tuesday were able to reach for the first time the town of Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv, was hit by rockets and Russian air strikes, where the mayor estimated 200 dead lay beneath the rubble. At the besieged port of Mariupol, local officials put the death toll in the thousands.

Fierce fighting continued along Ukraine’s southern coast, where Mariupol, largely reduced to rubble by Russian fire, said Martin Griffiths, UN humanitarian chief, said. destroyed, is “the center of hell”.

More than 250 miles west of Mariupol, explosions rocked through the port of Mykolaiv, a day after the mayor said Russian attacks had left 10 people dead and 46 injured. He said that the Russians attacked residential buildings, schools, hospitals and orphanages. city ​​since the war began, and has used cluster bombs. Soldiers defending the city say Russian forces are increasingly attacking civilian targets.

After four consecutive days of trying and failing to send a relief convoy to Mariupol, where people were desperately short of food, water, electricity, heat and medicine, the International Committee of the Red Cross decided against another attempt on Tuesday.

Ukrainian officials say the Russians have prevented essential supplies from reaching the city. Mr. Nebenzya, Russia’s UN Ambassador, said the Ukrainians blocked the convoy and he claimed that Russian forces had evacuated 123,500 people from Mariupol.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that in reality, tens of thousands of Ukrainians, including from Mariupol, have been sent to “filter camps” in Russia, where family members have been detained. divided and people stripped of their passports. and mobile phones. “I don’t need to explain what this so-called filter camp is reminiscent of,” she said. “It was cold and we couldn’t look away.”

Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said there is credible evidence that Russia has used cluster munitions – explosive munitions to launch many smaller bombs over a large area – at least 24 times. into populated areas of Ukraine. Most countries have signed treaties banning cluster munitions as indiscriminate weapons with a high risk of civilian casualties, but Russia, like the United States, has not.

More than 11 million Ukrainians – about a quarter – have been displaced by the war, including more than 4 million who have fled the country, according to the United Nations, creating the largest refugee crisis and their families. fastest growing in Europe since World War II. .

Russian forces recently captured the eastern city of Izyum, and Western analysts say they are preparing for an offensive south and southeast, to intensify efforts to capture more areas. Luhansk and Donetsk, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting for eight years. . Many of Ukraine’s best-equipped and most experienced military units are concentrated in that area, known as the Donbas.

“Russian forces continue to make no progress in frontal attacks” on parts of the Donbas still held by Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War said.

Whether the Russians have the simple aim of strengthening their units in the Donbas, or are planning a more ambitious attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces, capturing Sloviansk, the institute said is very important.

In the Luhansk region on Tuesday, an attack that Ukrainians blame on Russian forces hit a tank containing nitric acid, releasing a toxic cloud and prompting the area manager to urge people to stay indoors and close their windows.

The institute said that Russian units withdrawn from the area around Kyiv, having suffered heavy casualties, loss of equipment and poor morale, are “very unlikely to be effectively deployed elsewhere in the world.” Ukrainian territory and potentially a reinforcement force.”

An intelligence assessment released by the UK Ministry of Defense was more uncertain, but said that any Russian forces redeployed from the north would first require significant time to repair and replace equipment as well. as compensation for casualties.

Report contributed by Carlotta Gall in Borodyanka, Ukraine; Andrew E. Kramer in Kyiv, Ukraine; Rick Gladstone, Michael Schwirtz and Farnaz Fassihi in New York; Dan Bilefsky in Montreal; Steven Erlanger and Matina Stevis-Gridneff in Brussels; Megan Specia and Cora Engelbrecht in Krakow, Poland; Anton Troianovski in Istanbul; and Lara Jakes, John Ismay and Katie Rogers in Washington.



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