Russia faces global outrage over bodies in Ukraine’s streets

Published April 5, 2022
UKRAINE’S President Volodymyr Zelenskiy walks past destroyed Russian military vehicles in Bucha on Monday.—Reuters
UKRAINE’S President Volodymyr Zelenskiy walks past destroyed Russian military vehicles in Bucha on Monday.—Reuters

BUCHA: Moscow faced global revulsion and accusations of war crimes on Monday after the Russian pullout from the outskirts of Kyiv revealed streets strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians, some of whom had seemingly been killed at close range.

The grisly images of battered bodies out in the open or in hastily dug graves led to calls for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin, namely a cutoff of fuel imports from Russia. Germany reacted by expelling 40 Russian diplomats, and Lithuania threw out its Russian ambassador.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy left the capital, Kyiv, for his first reported trip since the war began nearly six weeks ago to see for himself what he called the genocide and war crimes in the town of Bucha, the site of some of the horrors.

Dead people have been found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured, said Zelenskyy, who again called on Russia to move quickly to negotiate an end to the war.

European leaders and the United Nations human rights chief condemned the bloodshed, some of them also branding it genocide, and US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin should face a war crimes trial.

This guy is brutal, and whats happening in Bucha is outrageous, said Biden, who also promised to increase sanctions against Moscow.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the scenes outside Kyiv as a stage-managed anti-Russian provocation. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the images contained signs of video forgery and various fakes.” Russia similarly rejected previous allegations of atrocities as fabrications on Ukraine’s part.

Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around Kyiv that were recaptured from Russian forces in recent days.The full extent of the bloodshed in the Kyiv area has yet to emerge. By all accounts, the horrors in the shattered southern port city of Mariupol are likely to be far worse.

This is a war of murders, a lot of blood. A lot of civilians are dying, said Natalia Svitlova, a refugee from Dnipro in eastern Ukraine who fled to Poland. I don’t understand why this is possible in the 21st century and why no one can stop it.

Moscow continued to press its offensive in eastern Ukraine, where little news has made it to the outside world since the war began Feb 24. Russia, in withdrawing from the capital area in recent days after being thwarted in its bid to capture Kyiv, has said its main focus now is gaining control the Donbas, the largely Russian-speaking industrial region in the country’s east that includes Mariupol.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2022

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