BUCHA, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — Ukraine’s president plans to address the most powerful UN body on Tuesday, as more recent evidence of civilian massacres emerged in areas abandoned by Russian forces. Western nations expelled dozens of Moscow diplomats and proposed further sanctions as they expressed their disgust about the war crime.
The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET. Watch the player above.
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to the Security Council will be rich in symbolism, but invitations and other demonstrations of Western support are unlikely to change the situation on the ground. He says his forces are in dire need of more powerful weapons, some of which the West has been reluctant to give. Russia’s veto guarantees the body will take no action, and it was unclear whether its representatives would also remain in the chamber for the video address.
Meanwhile, the NATO chief warned that Russia was realigning its forces to deploy them in eastern and southern Ukraine for a “critical phase of the war”, as the European Union targeted Russia’s lucrative energy industry. proposed new restrictions.
Ukrainian officials said the bodies of at least 410 civilians who had been withdrawn from Russian forces were found in cities around Kyiv and that a “torture room” had been discovered in the town of Bucha, some of which revealed grim details. have come.
Associated Press reporters in the town count dozens of corpses in civilian clothing. Several people appear to have been shot from close range, and some had their hands tied or their flesh burnt. A mass grave in a churchyard contained bodies wrapped in plastic. Ukraine’s prosecutor-general’s office said five people with their hands tied were found in the basement of a children’s hospital where civilians were tortured and killed.
Meanwhile, high-resolution satellite imagery by commercial provider Maxar Technologies showed that several bodies had been lying in the open for weeks while Russian forces were in the city. The New York Times first reported on images showing the dead.
US President Joe Biden has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes.
“Only non-humans are capable of this,” said Angelica Chernomor, a refugee from Kyiv who had gone to Poland with her two children, and who had seen photographs from Buka. “Even if people live in an authoritarian regime, they should maintain feelings, dignity, but this is not so.”
Chernomor is among more than 4 million Ukrainians who have fled the country in the wake of the February 24 invasion. The United Nations Migration Agency estimates that more than 7 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine.
Russia has denied the allegations of torture, with officials repeatedly saying without evidence that the scenes were fake. Moscow said it would talk about Buka at the United Nations on Tuesday, indicating that its representatives would at least attend the meeting.
Russia has sought to refute similar allegations against its forces in the past by accusing its enemies of making photos and videos and using so-called crisis actors. Western officials and independent journalists say Russia spreads propaganda to hide its actions.
As Western leaders condemned the killings in Buka, Italy, Spain and Denmark expelled dozens of Russian diplomats on Tuesday, following in moves by Germany and France. Hundreds of Russian diplomats have been sent home since the start of the invasion, many accused of being spies. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the evictions a “short-sighted” measure that would complicate communications during the crisis and warned they would be met with “mutual steps”.
In another show of support, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plans to travel to Kyiv this week to meet with Zelensky. The 27-nation EU has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine since the start of the Russian offensive on 24 February and has already gone through four rounds of sanctions.
On Tuesday, the executive branch of the European Union proposed a ban on coal imports from Russia. Von der Leyen linked the ban on coal imports worth 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) per year to “heinous crimes” around Kyiv.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said the West should impose the “mother of all sanctions” on Russian oil and gas to prevent a “new Bukas”. “Stop funding Putin’s war machine,” he tweeted. “A few months of tightening your belt is worth saving thousands of lives.”
But Western countries are divided about how far to go. Some are calling for a boycott of Russian oil and gas imports, while Germany and others fear such a move could land the continent in a serious economic crisis. And countries in the NATO alliance have refused to hand over some of the most powerful weapons Zelensky demanded, such as fighter jets.
His provision of other weapons and equipment has been credited with helping Ukraine mount a stiffer than expected resistance to Russia’s heavy firepower. That resistance prevented Russian forces from capturing the capital and other cities, and many Russian troops have now withdrawn from the areas around Kyiv.
But Western and Ukrainian officials say Russia is only regrouping for another attack.
“Moscow is not giving up on its ambitions in Ukraine,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday. “We expect another push across the Crimean peninsula to try and build a land bridge, carrying the entire Donbass in eastern and southern Ukraine, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Russia-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops in the Donbass for the past eight years.
A day after Zelensky appealed for more weapons, Stoltenberg insisted the coalition would be ready to help Ukraine with military equipment.
Zelensky’s video addresses to European capitals, in which he has sought to garner diplomatic, financial and military support for his country, have moved closer to daily affairs, and he was expected to address the Spanish parliament on Tuesday.
But the speech at the Security Council could be even more dramatic, with all eyes on the reaction of any Russian representative present.