Outrage over atrocities near Kyiv +++ Russia bombs fuel facilities in Odessa
After graphic images from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha began to surface over the weekend, the world reacted with horror and condemnation to the mass graves of Ukrainian civilians, as well as accusations of summary killings and the use of sexual violence as a tool of war by Russian soldiers. Bucha is a town of some 36,000 inhabitants less than 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the city limits of Kyiv. In late February, it became the target of Russian forces as they advanced on the Ukrainian capital. According to survivors, many citizens stayed in their basements for weeks without light or heat until Ukrainian troops took back the city. After the Russians pulled back, reports began to emerge accusing Moscow’s forces of restraining and then shooting civilians, as well as sexually assaulting local women whose bodies were left naked and partially burned on the side of the road. Photos and videos showed mass graves around the city. Independent journalists have confirmed accounts of locals as to the existence of the graves and many of the atrocities committed in the town. Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk estimated that at least 300 residents had been killed, and some were buried alongside numerous Russian soldiers. Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda reported on Sunday that 340 bodies had been recovered in the town.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of committing genocide. “We are citizens of Ukraine, and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of the Russian Federation. This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated,” he told US broadcaster CBS. Zelenskyy also criticized former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel for what he called appeasing Russian President Vladimir Putin, including making major business deals with state-owned enterprises and failing to stand against the 2014 annexation of Crimea. “I invite Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy to visit Bucha and see what a policy of concessions for 14 years has led to,” he said.
Human Rights Watch said it had documented what it described as “apparent war crimes” but said it was still “too early” to declare the massacres a genocide as calls mounted for an official investigation into what happened in the city. Russian officials have alternatively claimed that the footage from Bucha is “staged” or that troops were “provoked” by “extremists” but have provided no evidence for these claims. Moscow has requested a meeting of the UN Security Council to address the allegations of war crimes.