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Russia has been accused of a “terrible war crime”, as Western leaders have condemned the killing of dozens of unarmed civilians in Bucha and around kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said the Kremlin-ordered attack on his country amounts to genocide, after local officials reported dozens of civilians were killed in the towns of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel near of the capital after the withdrawal of Russian forces.

Zelenskiy told US broadcaster CBS that Ukraine’s refusal to submit to Russia was the reason “we are being destroyed and exterminated”, describing the war as “the torture of the whole nation”.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba said Russia was “worse than Daesh”.

Agence France-Presse journalists saw at least 20 bodies, all in civilian clothes, strewn across a single street in the town of Bucha on Friday. One had his hands tied behind his back with a white cloth and his Ukrainian passport left open next to his body. “All these people were shot,” Bucha mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told AFP, adding that 280 other bodies were buried in mass graves in the city.

“Dozens of dead civilians were discovered in Bucha,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said as he said he was shocked by the “terrible and horrifying” images. “Streets strewn with corpses. Bodies buried in makeshift conditions. We are talking about women, children and the elderly among the victims,” he said.

German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck condemned the killing of civilians in the town of Bucha as a “terrible war crime [that] cannot go unanswered” and called for tougher sanctions. The country’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said the images of Bucha were “unbearable”.

“Putin’s unbridled violence is wiping out innocent families and knows no bounds,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that those responsible for war crimes must be held to account.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the Bucha killings as “a punch in the stomach” and joined Western allies in vowing to document the atrocities to hold the perpetrators to account.

European Council President Charles Michel said he was shocked by “the haunting images of atrocities committed by [the] The Russian army in the liberated region of kyiv,” adding that “new sanctions and EU support are on the way.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “appalled by reports of untold horrors in regions from which Russia is withdrawing”. An independent investigation was urgently needed, she said, and “the perpetrators of war crimes will be held accountable”.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian promised that France would work with the Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court (ICC) “to ensure that these acts do not go unpunished and that those responsible are brought to justice and condemned”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spoke with Zelenskiy on Saturday, said the UK “will continue to step up its military, economic and diplomatic support, including by further tightening sanctions to increase economic pressure on the Putin’s war machine, while Russian troops remain in place”. Ukrainian territory”.

Kuleba urged the ICC and international organizations to come to the region to collect evidence of Russian war crimes.

Speaking on Times Radio on Sunday, he said Bucha was a “deliberate massacre”. Describing Russia as “worse than Daesh”, he said Russian forces were guilty of murder, torture, rape and looting. He also urged G7 countries to immediately impose “devastating” sanctions.

Killing of civilians in Bucha and Kyiv condemned as ‘terrible war crime’ |  Ukraine
A woman hugs a Ukrainian serviceman after a convoy of military and relief vehicles arrived in the formerly Russian-occupied suburb of Bucha in Kyiv on Saturday. Photo: Vadim Ghirda/AP

At a summit in Brussels last week, the 27 EU leaders agreed ‘to act quickly with new robust coordinated sanctions’ against Russia and its ally Belarus, but were divided on next steps. .

Germany, whose industrial economy is heavily dependent on Russian gas, has resisted calls for an immediate ban on Russian fossil fuels, angering Poland and the Baltic states, which would like the toughest measures against the machine. Kremlin war.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who faces a tough challenge from a united opposition in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, has also come under fire from Ukraine for his past support of Russia.

Over the weekend, Zelenskiy renewed his attack on Orbán, saying he had failed to show moral leadership and lacked honesty. “He is practically the only one in Europe who openly supports Mr. Putin,” Zelenskiy said.

On Saturday, Latvian authorities announced that the three Baltic states had stopped importing Russian gas since April 1. Lithuanian President Gitanes Nausėda said his country no longer imports Russian gas. “If we can do it, so can the rest of Europe,” he wrote on Twitter.

Nausėda said that the “photographic and video evidence of Irpin [and] Bucha exposes the brutal reality of the horrific war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine”.

Russia’s actions in Bucha were consistent with more than a century of military practice, said Jack Watling, senior researcher at the Royal United Services Institute. “Anyone who says Bucha is the result of brutality or thuggish behavior is wrong. It was the plan. It was premeditated,” he wrote on Twitter. “And if the Russian army had been more successful, there would have been many more cities like it.

“Now that the Ukrainians have pushed the Russians out of kyiv, the Russians are in this kind of dangerous inflection point, where the Russians have a more credible concept of operation,” he told the Guardian, referring Russia’s decision to focus on southern Ukraine. and Donbass.

“The Russians could regroup and pick up some momentum and start to pick up some ground again, but they are currently on the back end and they are somewhat disorganized and the morale is very low. If the Ukrainians can take advantage of this, they can potentially push back the Russians. »

He added that the next two weeks “are a critical turning point in terms of whether Ukrainians can maintain the momentum.”

Western countries were to prioritize military equipment, such as anti-tank weapons, air defense missiles and man-portable air defense systems that would allow Ukraine “to begin attacking Russian air defense system command posts , electronic warfare assistance, high value targets”.

“Not all Western countries have these systems and those that don’t should help those that do.”

Evidence of atrocities has emerged against the backdrop of faltering peace negotiations. Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said talks on a deal were not advanced enough to allow a meeting between Zelenskiy and Putin, contradicting a more optimistic statement by his Ukrainian counterpart, David Arakhamia. Ukraine offered to drop its goal of joining NATO, a key Russian request, but the two sides disagreed on the status of Russia’s annexed Crimea and the two self-proclaimed Donbass republics.

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