By Oleksandr Stashevsky and Nebi Cuna – The Associated Press
BUCHA, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — Tied hands, close-up gunshot wounds and torture marks were scattered across a town on the outskirts of Kyiv after Russian troops withdrew from the area. Ukrainian authorities accused the departing forces on Sunday of committing war crimes and leaving behind “the scenes of a horror movie”.
As images of bodies – those whose residents said were killed indiscriminately – began to emerge from Buka, a group of European leaders condemned the atrocities and called for tougher sanctions against Moscow. Germany’s defense minister, indicating how the dire reports shocked many leaders, also suggested that the EU consider imposing sanctions on Russian gas imports.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova said so far 410 bodies of civilians had been found in towns in the Kyiv region that were recently withdrawn from the Russian military.
Associated Press reporters found bodies of at least 21 people in various places around Bucha, northwest of the capital. A group of nine men, all in civilian clothing, scattered around a site that residents said was used by Russian soldiers as a base. It appears that they were killed from very close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs, one was shot in the head, the other had his legs tied.
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Ukrainian officials put the blame squarely on the feet of Russian soldiers for the killings in Buka and other Kyiv suburbs, with the president describing them as evidence of the massacre. But Russia’s defense ministry dismissed the allegations as “provocative”.
The discoveries followed the Russian withdrawal from the area around the capital, which has seen heavy fighting since troops from three directions invaded Ukraine on 24 February. Troops flowing north from Belarus spent weeks trying to clear a path to Kyiv, but their progress was halted in the face of firm defense from Ukraine’s forces.
Moscow now says it is focusing its offensive in the east of the country, but it also laid siege to a city in the north and continues to attack cities elsewhere in the war, killing thousands and killing more than 4 million. More Ukrainians were forced to flee their country. ,
Russian troops entered Buka in the early days of the offensive and stayed until 30 March. With those forces gone, residents gave grim descriptions on Sunday, saying soldiers shot and killed civilians for no apparent reason.
One resident, who declined to be named for fear of his own safety, said Russian soldiers went into the building and escorted people out of the basement where they were hiding, without any evidence of anti-Russian activity. were checking their phones for it and took them away. away or shoot them.
Another resident, Hanna Herrega, said Russian soldiers shot a neighbor who had gone out to collect wood for heating.
“He was on his way to get some wood when suddenly they (Russian) started shooting. They hit him a little above the heel, crushed the bone, and he fell down,” said Herrega. “Then they shot his left leg all the way down with the boot. Then they shot him (the chest). And the second shot went slightly below the temple. It was a controlled shot to the head.”
The Associated Press also saw two bodies of a man and a woman wrapped in plastic, which residents said they had covered and kept in a shaft until a proper funeral was arranged.
The resident, on the condition of anonymity, said that the man was murdered while leaving the house.
“He raised his hands, and they shot him,” she said.
Oleksiy Erestovich, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, described Buka as “a scene from a horror movie”, along with bodies lying on the streets of the suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel. He alleged that some of the women found dead were raped before killing them and then the Russians burnt the bodies.
“It’s genocide,” Zelensky told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
But Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement that the photos and videos of the bodies “have been managed by the Kyiv regime for Western media.” It was noted that the mayor of Buka did not mention any abuse the day after the Russian troops left.
The ministry alleged that “no civilian has suffered any violent action by the Russian military” in Buka.
In Motizin, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Kiev, residents told the Associated Press on Sunday that Russian soldiers killed the city’s mayor, her husband and their son and buried their bodies in a pine forest behind houses. Thrown into a pit, where the Russian army slept. , Inside the pit, Associated Press reporters saw the bodies of four people who believed they were shot from very close range. Meyer’s husband’s hands were behind her back, a piece of rope was nearby, and a piece of plastic was wrapped around her eyes like a blindfold.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk confirmed that the mayor was killed while being captured by the Russian military.
Some European leaders said the killings in the Kyiv region were a war crime. The US has previously said it believes Russia has committed war crimes, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken posted images of “a punch to the gut” near Kyiv on Nation World News’s “State of the Union”. Called.
“This is cruelty against civilians that we haven’t seen in Europe for decades,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on the same show.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko called on nations to immediately end Russian gas imports, saying they were funding the killings.
In a change, Germany’s defense minister said the EU should consider doing so. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Sunday night on German public broadcaster ARD that ministers “have to talk about stopping gas supplies from Russia.” “Such crimes should not go unanswered.”
As Russian forces retreated from the area around the capital, they laid siege to other parts of the country. Russia has said it is directing troops to the Donbass in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years.
In that area, Mariupol, a port on the Sea of Azov, which has seen some of the greatest suffering of the war, was cut off. About 100,000 civilians – less than a quarter of the pre-war population of 430,000 – are believed to have been trapped there with little or no food, water, fuel and medicine.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday that a team sent on Saturday to help evacuate residents had not yet arrived in the city.
Ukrainian officials said Russia had agreed to allow safe passage from the city a few days ago, but similar agreements have repeatedly broken down under constant shelling.
The mayor of Chernihiv, who has also been cut off from shipments of food and other supplies for weeks, said on Sunday that relentless Russian shelling had destroyed 70% of the northern city.
On Sunday morning, Russian forces fired missiles at the Black Sea port of Odessa in southern Ukraine, sending clouds of black smoke over parts of the city. The Russian military said the targets were an oil processing plant and fuel depot.
The regional governor in Kharkiv said on Sunday that Russian artillery and tanks carried out more than 20 strikes in the past day in Ukraine’s second-largest city and its outskirts in the country’s northeast.
In a town to the southeast of the city, Oleh Sinyehubov said Russian soldiers opened fire on a convoy of buses that were trying to evacuate patients from a hospital heavily damaged by shelling the day before. Sinyehubov said about 70 patients needed to be taken from the hospital in Balaklia, but that buses were not able to enter the city.
The head of Ukraine’s delegation in talks with Russia said Moscow’s negotiators informally agreed to most of the draft resolution discussed during one-on-one talks in Istanbul this week, but provided no written confirmation Is.
Qena reported from Motyzhyn, Ukraine. Journalists from Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and Associated Press from around the world contributed to this report.
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