Ukraine accuses Russian soldiers of killing unarmed civilians

Ukraine has accused Russian soldiers of killing unarmed civilians after large numbers of bodies were reportedly found in areas near kyiv that were taken over by Ukrainian forces.

Emine Dzheppar, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, said soldiers who recaptured Bucha, a small town 60 km northwest of the capital, from Russian forces reported “many dead civilians”.

“Some of the victims have their hands tied. Innocent victims. They didn’t deserve this,” she said.

In the nearby village of Motyzhyn, Russian soldiers also “did terrible things”, she added. “Their cruelty knows no bounds. Before the arrival of Ukrainian troops, [the] The Russian army killed as many civilians as possible. Inhuman. Terrible. Mute.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, posted an image on Twitter that appeared to show several corpses on the streets of Bucha. Some of the victims appeared to have their hands tied behind their backs.

“The bodies of people with their hands tied, who were shot by [Russian] soldiers are lying in the streets,” Podolyak said. “These people were not in the army. They had no weapons. They posed no threat. How many other cases of this kind are occurring at the moment in the occupied territories? »

Liz Truss, UK Foreign Secretary, said the UK was collecting evidence of war crimes, adding that she was “appalled by the atrocities committed in Bucha and other towns in Ukraine”.

“Reports of Russian forces targeting innocent civilians are abhorrent,” Truss wrote on Twitter. “The UK is working with others to gather evidence and support the International Criminal Court’s war crimes investigation. Those responsible will be held accountable.

Melinda Simmons, the British ambassador to Ukraine, has accused Russia of “monstrous crimes”.

“Mass graves. Bodies of civilians litter the streets. The monstrous crimes become clearer each day as [Russia] withdraw and regroup,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Rape is a weapon of war. Although we do not yet know the extent of its use in Ukraine, it is already clear that it was part of [Russia’s] arsenal,” she added. “Women raped in front of their children, girls in front of their families, as a deliberate act of subjugation. Rape is a war crime.

Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Estonian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said: “The Bucha massacre is Ukraine’s Srebrenica. This is what “denazification” means for Russia.

Artis Pabriks, Latvian Defense Minister, said: “After seeing the Russian atrocities against civilians, if some in the free west still do not understand that we must do everything so that the Russians lose and leave all of Ukraine , then I feel sorry for the west. ”

Associated Press reporters in Bucha quoted local residents as saying the dead were civilians who had been killed by Russian soldiers without provocation. There was no immediate response from the Kremlin or the Russian Defense Ministry.

Agence France-Presse reporters in the city said they saw at least 20 bodies in a single street.

Anatoly Fedoruk, mayor of Bucha, told AFP that 280 other bodies had already been buried in mass graves in the city.

The reports came as Ukrainian forces claimed to have regained control of the entire Kyiv region, including Bucha and other nearby towns. Hanna Maliar, the country’s deputy defense minister, said on Saturday evening that Ukrainian armed forces had regained control of the provincial area from Russian forces.

“Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel and the whole Kyiv region have been liberated from the invader,” she said in a Facebook post, referring to suburban towns north of the capital.

Earlier on Saturday, the former chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunals, Carla Del Ponte, requested an international arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, telling Swiss media that the Russian president was a “war criminal “.

“I hoped never to see mass graves again,” she told the Blick newspaper. “These dead have relatives who do not even know what has become of them. This is unacceptable.

“Every serious media outlet in the west tomorrow morning needs to ask what Scholz, Macron, Orban and Biden et al. have to say about the Bucha massacre,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former president of Estonia, said on Twitter. “And what they’re going to do about it.”

The US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia has withdrawn its troops from around kyiv in recent days after failing to break through Ukrainian defences.

The New York Times reported late Friday that the United States would work with its Western allies to deliver Soviet-era tanks to Ukrainian forces in the Donbass. A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Richard Milne in Oslo and Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe in London

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