Zelenskyy addresses UN amid outrage over civilian deaths
BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy planned to speak to UN Security Council diplomats on Tuesday outraged by mounting evidence that Russian forces deliberately killed civilians, many of whom were shot in yards , streets and houses, and their bodies left in the open air.
The Russian withdrawal from towns around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, revealed the bodies, leading to calls for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin, in particular a cut in gas and oil imports from Russia. Germany and France responded by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, suggesting they were spies. US President Joe Biden has said Russian leader Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes.
“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous,” Biden said, referring to the town northwest of the capital that was the scene of some of the horrors.
The discovery of bodies in Bucha was expected to be “at the forefront” of the Security Council session, said Barbara Woodward, UN ambassador to the UK, who serves as the council’s chair.
Zelenskyy, speaking from Ukraine, planned to address the UN’s most powerful body after receiving information from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres; its political boss, Rosemary DiCarlo, and UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, who is trying to organize a ceasefire. Griffiths met Russian officials in Moscow on Monday and is due to travel to Ukraine.
Associated Press reporters in Bucha counted dozens of plainclothes and apparently unarmed bodies, many of them shot at close range and some with their hands tied or their flesh burned.
After touring Bucha neighborhoods and speaking to starving survivors queuing for bread, Zelenskyy promised in a video address that Ukraine would work with the European Union and the International Criminal Court to identify Russian fighters implicated in atrocities .
“The time will come when every Russian will learn the whole truth about who among his fellow citizens killed, who gave orders, who turned a blind eye to the murders,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the scenes outside kyiv an “orchestrated anti-Russian provocation”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the footage contained “signs of video forgery and various fakes”.
Russia has dismissed previous claims of atrocities as fabrications by Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials said the bodies of at least 410 civilians were found in towns around kyiv that had been recaptured from Russian forces.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office has called a room discovered in Bucha a “torture chamber”. In a statement, he said the bodies of five men, with their hands tied, were found in the basement of a children’s sanatorium where civilians were tortured and killed.
Bodies seen by AP reporters in Bucha included at least 13 in and around a building that locals said Russian troops were using as a base. Three other bodies were found in a stairwell and a group of six were burned together.
The dead witnessed by news agency reporters also included bodies wrapped in black plastic, piled at one end of a mass grave in a cemetery in Bucha. Many of these victims had been shot in cars or killed in explosions as they tried to flee the city.
With the morgue full and the cemetery impossible to reach, the cemetery was the only place to keep the dead, Father Andrii Galavin said.
Tanya Nedashkivs’ka said she buried her husband in a garden outside their building after he was arrested by Russian troops. His body was one of those left piled up in a stairwell.
“Please, I’m begging you, do something!” ” she says. “It’s me speaking, a Ukrainian, a Ukrainian, a mother of two children and a grandchild. For all the wives and mothers, make peace on Earth so that no one ever cries again.
Another Bucha resident, Volodymyr Pilhutskyi, said his neighbor Pavlo Vlasenko was taken away by Russian soldiers because the military-style pants he was wearing and the uniforms that Vlasenko said belonged to his security guard son looked suspects. When Vlasenko’s body was later found, it had burn marks from a flamethrower, his neighbor said.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, insisted at a press conference on Monday that during the period Bucha was under Russian control, “not a single local person suffered from a violent action”.
However, high-resolution satellite imagery from commercial provider Maxar Technologies showed that many bodies had been lying in the open for weeks while Russian forces were in Bucha. The New York Times first reported on satellite images showing the dead.
Western and Ukrainian leaders have already accused Russia of war crimes. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has already opened an investigation. But the latest reports have reinforced the condemnation.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Bucha’s footage reveals “the incredible brutality of Russian leaders and those who follow his propaganda”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said there is “clear evidence of war crimes” in Bucha which demands further punitive measures.
“I am in favor of a new series of sanctions, particularly on coal and gasoline. We must act,” he told France-Inter radio.
Although united in outrage, European allies appeared divided on how to respond. While Poland has urged Europe to wean itself off Russian energy quickly, Germany has said it will stick to a phased approach of phasing out coal and oil imports over the next few years. month.
Russia withdrew much of its forces from the area around kyiv after being thwarted in its attempt to quickly capture the capital.
Instead, it has sent troops into eastern Ukraine as part of a heightened bid to take control of Donbass, the largely Russian-speaking industrial region that includes the beleaguered port city of Mariupol, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting and the worst suffering of war.
About two-thirds of Russian troops around kyiv have left and are either in Belarus or on their way there, likely getting more supplies and reinforcements, a senior US defense official said, speaking undercover anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment.
More than 1,500 civilians were able to escape from Mariupol on Monday, using the dwindling number of private vehicles available to leave, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
But amid the fighting, a Red Cross-accompanied bus convoy that was thwarted for days in a bid to deliver supplies and evacuate residents was again unable to enter the town, said Vereshchuk.
Elsewhere, Russian shelling killed 11 people in the southern city of Mykolaiv, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said in a video message on social media.
Zelenskyy has called for more weaponry as Russia prepares new offensives.
“If we had already gotten what we needed – all those planes, tanks, artillery, anti-missile and anti-ship weapons – we could have saved thousands of people,” he said.