BUCHA, Ukraine — Ukraine’s troops found brutalized bodies with bound hands, gunshot wounds to the head and signs of torture after Russian soldiers withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv, authorities said Sunday, sparking new calls for a war crimes investigation and sanctions against Russia.
Bucha is a city located northwest of capital. Associated Press journalists saw nine bodies in civilian clothing. Two people had their hands bound behind their backs. Two bodies were also wrapped with plastic and taped, then thrown in a ditch.
The authorities claimed they were adding evidence to the case to prove that Russian war criminals had been committed. To convict, International Criminal Court prosecutors will need to show a pattern of indiscriminant deadly assaults on civilians during Russia’s invasion.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said scores of residents were found slain on the streets of Bucha and the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel in what looked like a “scene from a horror movie.”
Arestovych stated that some people had been shot in their heads and had their hands tied. Some bodies also showed signs of torture. He also said that there were stories of rapes.
AP journalists had seen Ukrainian soldiers remove at least six corpses from a Bucha street using cables. The cables were in place to determine if the Russians had booby-trapped bodies with explosives. According to locals, the bodies were civilians who died without any provocation. This claim could not independently be verified.
“What happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told German newspaper Bild. Klitschko demanded that other nations immediately stop Russian gas imports. He claimed they are financing the deaths.
“Not a penny should go to Russia anymore. That’s bloody money used to slaughter people. The gas and oil embargo must come immediately,” the mayor said.
On February 24, Russian troops entered Ukraine from all three directions. Soldiers who arrived from Belarus’ north spent several weeks trying to find a way to Kyiv from soldiers from Belarus. Their advance stalled in the face of resolute defiance from Ukraine’s defenders, and Moscow said this week it would concentrate the invasion elsewhere going forward.
There were many signs of fighting in the wake Russian troops’ retreat northward to Belarus. Both armoured vehicles of both armies had been destroyed and lay scattered on roads and fields, along with military gear. According to the Ukrainian military, its troops were still searching for Russian fighters and mines in areas outside the capital.
Dmytro Kuleba (foreign minister), also demanded tougher sanctions against Russia. This included a total energy embargo for the discovery north of Kyiv. Kuleba tweeted Sunday that the“Bucha massacre was deliberate,” alleging the “Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can.”
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, wrote on Twitter that he was shocked by the “haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army” in the capital region. The EU and non-governmental organizations were assisting in the effort to preserve evidence of war crimes, according to Michel, who promised “further EU sanctions” against Russia.
France, Germany, Italy, and the U.K. condemned separately what was described, and stated that Russia would be held accountable.
“We will not allow Russia to cover up their involvement in these atrocities through cynical disinformation and will ensure that the reality of Russia’s actions are brought to light,″ British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
Russia fled the capital while other parts were being held hostage. Russia claimed it was directing troops towards eastern Ukraine. This is where Russia-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian forces for the past eight years.
Mariupol (a southeast port on the Sea of Azov) was still cut off by the rest of Russia as Russian ground forces attempted to take over the city. About 100,000 civilians – less than a quarter of the prewar population of 430,000 – are believed to be trapped there with little or no food, water, fuel and medicine.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it hoped a team of nine staffers and three vehicles it sent Saturday to help evacuate residents would reach Mariupol on Sunday but cautioned, “The situation on the ground is volatile and subject to rapid changes.”
According to Ukrainian authorities, Russia had agreed to permit safe passage out of the city days before, although similar arrangements have been repeatedly broken by continued shelling.
The staging area for thousands fleeing Mariupol has been a supermarket parking lot in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
Peycheva Olena, who made it out of the besieged city, told Britain’s Sky News she was forced to leave the body of her husband unburied when he was killed in shooting.
“There was shelling, and we tried to drag him away but it was too much, we couldn’t do it,” explained her daughter, Kristina Katrikova.
Although the terrain of battle changed, many Ukrainians still felt the same on the 39th Day of war. The conflict has displaced thousands more people and forced more than 4,000,000 to flee their country.
Chernihiv’s mayor stated Sunday that 70% of northern cities have been destroyed by Russian bombardment. Chernihiv was cut off from all shipments of food, and other supplies just like Mariupol.
“People think how they can live until tomorrow,” Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said.
Russian forces attacked the Black Sea port Odesa (in southern Ukraine) on Sunday morning. They sent up dark smoke clouds that obscured parts of the city. The Russian military said the targets were an oil processing plant and fuel depots around Odesa, which is Ukraine’s largest port and home to its navy.
“I live in that eight-floor building. At six in the morning, Russia launched an attack, and this piece of rock reached my house,” said Maiesienko Ilia, who lives near one of the targeted facilities.
The Odesa city council said Ukraine’s air defense shot down some missiles before they hit the city. According to Vladyslav Nazarov, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military said that there was no loss of life.
The regional governor in Kharkiv, said Sunday that Russian artillery and tanks performed over 20 strikes on Ukraine’s second-largest city and its outskirts in the country’s northeast over the past day.
The head of Ukraine’s delegation in talks with Russia said Moscow’s negotiators informally agreed to most of a draft proposal discussed during face-to-face talks in Istanbul this week, but no written confirmation has been provided.
Davyd Arakhamia (the Ukrainian negotiator) stated on Ukrainian TV, that he believed the proposal had been developed well enough for Zelenskyy to meet with Vladimir Putin. Interfax reported that Vladimir Medinksy (Russia’s top negotiator with Ukraine) said it was premature to discuss a meeting of the leaders.
As his country’s troops retook territory north of the capital from the departing Russian troops, Zelenskyy called on all Ukrainians to do whatever they could “to foil the enemy’s tactics and weaken its capabilities.”
“Peace will not be the result of any decisions the enemy makes somewhere in Moscow. We should not entertain the false hope of them simply leaving our land. We can only have peace by fighting,” Zelenskyy said late Saturday.
Yuras Karamanau was reporting from Lviv in Ukraine. This report was contributed by Andrea Rosa, Ukraine and Associated Press journalists from around the globe.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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