Brutal killings are denounced by the Ukrainian government and human rights organisations as Russia retires from occupied regions.
Ukraine has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate what appears to be a massacre of civilians in the north-western outskirts of Kyiv.
Russian troops abandoned the municipality of Bucha, on the road to Kyiv, leaving at least 280 corpses, authorities said. The Ukrainian government said the total number in the surrounding area is of 410 dead civilians. The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, described it as a “genocide”.
The specialised NGO Human Rights Watch said on Sunday 4 April it had documented two summary executions (of a total number of seven people) in previously Russian occupied regions, as well as other unlawful violence, including “looting civilian property, including food, clothing, and firewood”. The organisation spoke of “unspeakable, deliberate cruelty” in what it had been able to document so far.
Journalists from several international press agencies have said they have seen in Bucha dozens of bodies scattered on the streets, some of them with the hands bound. A mass grave has also been discovered after Russian troops left the area. Appartments and houses were heavily damaged and many destroyed vehicles blocked roads.
Russia responded to the accusations saying no civilians were attacked in the time they invaded Bucha and the surrounding region. The Russian representative to the United Nations Security Council said it all had been “staged” by the Ukrainian forces, calling it a “hoax” and a “blatant provocation”.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, said he was “deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine. It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability”.
I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine.
It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 3, 2022
The leaders of all European countries condemned the brutality of Putin’s army. The European Union has said “assists Ukraine in documenting war crimes. All cases must be pursued, namely by the International Criminal Court”. Governments in other parts of the world (including Japan, Australia and the US) have condemned the “horror” and agreed further decisions should be taken to isolate Russian President Vladimin Putin, including plans to stop buying oil supplies from Russia.
Russia’s invasion started on 24 February 2022. So far, 6.5 million people have been internally displaced in Ukraine (have left their home but not the country) and 4.2 million have become refugees fleeing to other countries. It is the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.