©Reuters. A Ukrainian service member inspects an area of Antonov Airfield as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues in the settlement of Hostomel in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 3, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
By Simon Gardner
BUCHA, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian authorities were investigating possible war crimes by Russia after finding hundreds of bodies, some bound and shot at point-blank range, scattered in towns near Kyiv after Kremlin forces attacked retreated to refocus their attacks on other parts of the country.
In the town of Bucha, 37 km (23 miles) northwest of downtown Kyiv, Reuters reporters saw a man sprawled by the roadside with his hands tied behind his back and a gunshot wound to the head.
Bucha’s Deputy Mayor Taras Shapravskyi said 50 of around 300 bodies found after Russian forces pulled out of the city late last week were victims of extrajudicial killings by Russian forces.
Reuters could not independently verify these numbers or who was responsible for the killings.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement released on Sunday that all photos and videos released by Ukrainian authorities alleging alleged “crimes” by Russian troops in Bucha were a “provocation” and no residents of Bucha suffered violence at the hands of Russian troops have.
Satellite images showed a 45-foot trench dug in the grounds of a Ukrainian church where a mass grave was found this week. Reuters reporters in Bucha visited a mass grave in a still-open church, poking hands and feet through the red clay piled on top.
Images of the destruction and apparent violence against civilians sparked widespread condemnation of Russia and leader Vladimir Putin. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the images as “a punch in the stomach” while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation.
“Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz, adding that the western allies would agree on further sanctions in the coming days.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said the European Union must discuss an import ban on Russian gas – a departure from Berlin’s previous opposition to the idea of an embargo on Russian energy imports.
Russia on Monday called on the UN Security Council to discuss what Moscow called a “provocation by Ukrainian radicals” in Bucha.
Russia has previously denied attacking civilians and has denied allegations of war crimes as part of a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “denazifying” Ukraine. Ukraine says it was attacked without provocation.
Human Rights Watch said it had documented “several cases of violations of martial law by Russian forces” in Ukraine’s Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv regions.
Ukraine’s foreign minister asked the International Criminal Court to collect evidence of Russian war crimes. The foreign ministers of France and Britain said their countries would support such an inquiry.
But legal experts say prosecuting Putin or other Russian leaders would face high hurdles and could take years.
Russia has withdrawn forces that had been threatening Kyiv from the north and said it intends to focus on eastern Ukraine.
In the early hours of Monday, explosions could be heard in the southern cities of Kherson and Odessa, while air raid sirens sounded in the east of the country.
Rockets fell near Odessa on Sunday. Russia said it destroyed an oil refinery used by the Ukrainian military. The Odessa City Council said “critical infrastructure facilities” had been hit.
The governor of the eastern Donetsk region said Sunday shelling continued day and night. According to the regional prosecutor’s office, seven people have been killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
Ukraine evacuated more than 2,600 people from the southeastern port of Mariupol and the Luhansk region on Sunday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. Ukrainian officials are in talks with Russia to allow several Red Cross buses to enter Mariupol, she added.
The Red Cross abandoned earlier attempts for safety reasons. Russia blamed the charity for the delays.
Mariupol is Russia’s main target in southeastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, and tens of thousands of civilians have been trapped there for weeks with little access to food and water.
There was little sign of a breakthrough in efforts to negotiate an end to the war, although Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said talks would resume Monday via video conference.
https://www.investing.com/news/world-news/ukraine-accuses-russia-of-war-crimes-after-bodies-found-bound-shot-2797175 Ukraine accuses Russia of war crimes after bodies were found bound and shot dead by Reuters