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'Russia Must Answer To The World': Global Condemnation Of Ukraine Killings Mounts

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service April 04, 2022

KYIV -- Evidence that Russian troops killed dozens of civilians in Ukraine has sparked cries of "war crimes" from the international community and calls for further measures against Moscow, which dismissed the reports as a "provocation."

U.S. President Joe Biden called on April 4 for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him a war criminal and saying he plans to seek more sanctions against Russia.

"This guy is brutal...what is happening in Bucha is outrageous," Biden said, referring to the Ukrainian town where Russian forces reportedly killed dozens of civilians. Putin "is a war criminal."

Speaking outside the White House on April 4, Biden said more evidence should be gathered to use in a war crimes trial.

Biden's comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Bucha, a town outside Kyiv where Ukrainian officials say the bodies of civilians have been found. Zelenskiy called the Russian actions "genocide" and called for the West to apply tougher sanctions against Russia.

As he toured the area on the northwestern edge of Kyiv, Zelenskiy, wearing a bulletproof vest and accompanied by military personnel, spoke to the nation on television, saying such scenes made it more difficult to sit at a table with Russia and negotiate an end to the unprovoked war Moscow launched last month.

"Every day, when our fighters enter and retake territory, you see what's been happening," the Ukrainian leader said.

"These are war crimes and will be recognized by the world as genocide," Zelenskiy said, adding he expected evidence of similar crimes will be found in other occupied regions after Russian forces are ousted from them.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also predicted that evidence of civilian killings would be found in other towns that Russian forces occupied.

"The horrors that we've seen in Bucha are just the tip of the iceberg of all the crimes (that) have been committed by the Russian Army," Kuleba said at a news conference in Warsaw alongside British Foreign Minister Liz Truss.

"Half-measures are not enough anymore. I demand most severe sanctions this week, this is the plea of the victims of the rapes and killings. If you have doubts about sanctions, go to Bucha first."

Moscow has denied the allegations, with various top Kremlin officials describing them as a "provocation" intended to discredit Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "We categorically reject all allegations."

He added that Russia was requesting a meeting of the UN Security Council to address what Moscow has decried as "Ukrainian provocations." Britain, which currently holds the presidency of the Security Council, has said the body will discuss Ukraine at its already scheduled session on April 5.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry also claimed, without evidence, that the Bucha images were "another staged performance by the Kyiv regime" and that all Russian forces had left the town by March 30.

The Russian Investigative Committee on April 4 announced an "investigation" into the accusation that Ukraine had spread "deliberately false information" about the actions of Russian forces in Bucha.

Earlier on April 4, the European Union began discussions of new sanctions against Russia in the wake of the reports alleging atrocities, according to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, with some of the bloc's members calling for restrictions of imports of Russian energy supplies.

"We stand in full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in these somber hours for the whole world," Borrell said, calling the drafting of new sanctions "a matter of urgency."

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told her country's ARD public broadcaster that European officials "would have to talk about halting gas supplies from Russia," even though German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has previously resisted sanctions targeting Russian energy exports.

As Russian forces have withdrawn from areas around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, reports emerged that hundreds of civilians had been shot and dumped in mass graves or left on the streets in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

Photographs showing the bodies of dead civilians with their hands bound shocked many and prompted calls for stepped-up sanctions against Russia and the criminal prosecution of the perpetrators.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the photographs from Bucha and other areas "raise serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes, grave breaches of international humanitarian law, and serious violations of international human rights law."

Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called for an "international commission to investigate this crime of genocide." He also joined calls for "clear and determined sanctions" against Russia.

U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for the General Assembly to "remove" Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, calling Russia's presence there "a farce."

Other countries around the world have also condemned the alleged atrocities and called for action against Russia.

"The reports of Ukrainian civilians who have been killed, raped, and severely wounded by Russian troops are beyond reprehensible," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters in Wellington on April 4.

"Russia must answer to the world for what they've done," she added, saying that her government would discuss additional measures to support Ukraine in its struggle against the Russian invasion.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida described the reported incidents as "violations of international law."

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a radio interview on April 4 that there are indications Russian forces committed "war crimes" in Bucha.

"What happened in Bucha demands a new round of sanctions and very clear measures," Macron said, adding that additional sanctions should target Russian exports of coal and oil.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the same day that Russian forces may have gone as far as committing "genocide" in Bucha.

"We will do everything to ensure that those who have perpetrated these war crimes do not go unpunished," Sanchez said in Madrid.

Ukrainian President Zelenskiy lashed out on April 3, accusing Russian forces of committing "genocide" in the town and told Kremlin leaders they should come to Bucha to see what their military had done.

A correspondent for RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on April 2 saw the bodies of what appeared to be civilians spread out on the streets of the small city. In one location alone, the correspondent saw up to 10 bodies on the street.

AP journalists saw the bodies of at least 21 people in various spots around Bucha. The bodies of one group of nine people -- all in civilian clothes -- were scattered on the ground near a site that local residents said Russian forces had used as a base. The victims appeared to have been killed at close range.

In all, Ukrainian authorities have said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in the area around Kyiv that was controlled by Russia forces until last week.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Putin justified the assault by saying Moscow intended to "de-Nazify" and "demilitarize" Ukraine.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and TASS

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-russia -bucha-killings-atrocities-condemnation/31784634.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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