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Images of dead civilians in Bucha spark outrage from US and others

Western officials on Sunday expressed outrage at videos and images from Bucha, a town near kyiv, that appeared to show the bodies of civilians strewn in the streets after Russia withdrew its troops from the area in recent days.

Images released by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and photographs from The New York Times and Agence France-Presse show the bodies of men in civilian clothes lying in the streets of Bucha, northwest of kyiv. An image shows a white cloth binding the hands of a body behind its back.

The Russian Defense Ministry called the footage “staged”, saying in a statement on Sunday that “not a single” civilian was injured at Bucha.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a CNN interview that the footage was consistent with warnings from the Biden administration that Russian forces would commit abuses.

“You can’t help but see these images as a punch in the stomach, and look, we said before Russia’s aggression that we thought it was likely that they would commit atrocities,” he said. Mr Blinken said, adding: “We can’t become numb to this. We can’t normalize this. This is the reality of what is happening every day.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said accounts of civilian deaths in Bucha showed “that Russian hatred towards Ukrainians surpasses anything Europe has seen since World War II”. He reiterated his call for increased sanctions against Russia and more military assistance for his country.

“The only way to stop this: help Ukraine expel the Russians as soon as possible,” he tweeted.

He also called for an investigation by the International Criminal Court to collect evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. US and UK officials said their governments would help collect evidence to help investigators.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the images “unbearable”.

“In the streets, hundreds of civilians have been cowardly murdered,” Macron said in a statement. message posted on Twitter Sunday, adding: “The Russian authorities will have to answer for these crimes”.

Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, expressed his shock at the images and said in a tweet that further EU sanctions against Russia “are on the way”.

Several other European officials have expressed concern over Bucha’s footage.

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, said on Twitter that the images were “the cold reality of Putin’s war crimes”, adding that the world “needs to be aware of what is happening”.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics sentenced “genocide” and “war crimes committed against innocent civilians”, demanding new sanctions against Russia and more military aid to Ukraine.

Analysts say that while war crimes cases can be brought to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, it would be extremely difficult to hold Russian leaders to account there because the court has no enforcement powers. Legal action in the International Court of Justice is also possible, but any decision would have to be enforced by the United Nations Security Council, where Russia holds a veto.

US lawmakers have said Bucha’s reports warrant additional aid to Ukraine, with some calling for the supply of more surface-to-air missiles to help Ukrainian forces. Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, says that “We need to do more to help Ukraine, and we need to do it faster.”

Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, says the pictures were evidence of war crimes committed by Russia. “Those who committed and authorized these acts will be damned by history and must be held accountable now,” he said.

Constant Meheut and Aurélien Breeden contributed reporting from Paris, Matina Stevis-Gridneff from Brussels, Emily Cochrane from washington, Ivan Nechepurenko from Istanbul and Cassandra Vinograd from London.


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