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Ukraine accuses Russia of massacre, city strewn with bodies, some with signs of torture

BUCHA, Ukraine – As foreign anger mounts over reports of possible executions and other atrocities by Russian forces in Ukraine, Germany’s defense minister says Europe should consider raising sanctions on Moscow by boycotting exports. gas, a financially painful step previously avoided by European leaders.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that he “strongly condemns the attacks on civilians” following reports of bodies found with signs of torture in areas abandoned by Russian forces. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called reports of rape and other atrocities by Russian soldiers “beyond condemnation.”

Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on musicians and other artists to help tell the story of the Russian invasion in a video shown during the Grammy Awards in Las Vegas. “Support us in any way you can,” Zelensky said.

Also Sunday, at least seven people were killed and 34 injured, including three children, in Russian bombings in northeastern Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, according to the regional prosecutor’s office. At the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said at least one person had been killed in bombings and 14 injured.

Ukrainian officials say the bodies of 410 civilians have been found in cities around the capital, Kyiv, which have been recaptured by Russian forces.

In Buha, northwest of the capital, Associated Press reporters saw 21 bodies. A group of nine, all in civilian clothes, were dispersed around a location that residents said was being used as a base by Russian troops. They appeared to have been shot at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs.

Zelensky described the killings as evidence of genocide, but the Russian Defense Ministry denied the allegations. He said the photos and videos of the dead were “managed by the Kiev regime for the Western media”.

The ministry said “not a single civilian” in Bhutan had faced any violent military action and that the mayor had not reported any abuses a day after Russian troops withdrew.

The invasion of Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 has killed thousands of people and forced more than 4 million Ukrainians to flee their country. Mr Putin said the attack was aimed at eliminating a security threat following the Ukrainian government ‘s bid to join the US – European Union military alliance.

The head of the Ukrainian delegation to the talks with Russia said that the Moscow negotiators had informally agreed to most of the draft proposal discussed during the talks in Istanbul, but no written confirmation had been given. Russia’s demands include Ukraine declaring itself neutral and renouncing military alliances.

Russian forces have withdrawn from some areas around Kyiv after Moscow said it was focusing its attack on the east of the country, where two areas are controlled by Russian-backed separatists. Russian troops entered Bukha in the first days of the invasion and remained awake until March 30.

Reports of atrocities are so serious that European officials “should talk about cutting off gas supplies from Russia,” German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told the public broadcaster ARD. “Such crimes must not go unanswered.”

Europe gets 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil from Russia, and such sales are the Kremlin’s main source of export revenue.

Governments are trying to find ways to reduce this dependence. Estimates of the impact of a gas boycott on European countries vary, but most imply a significant loss of economic output.

For its part, Russia is temporarily enjoying an unexpected profit as world prices soar amid concerns about possible supply disruptions.

Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko has called on nations to end imports of Russian gas. He said they were financing the killings.

On Saturday, Lithuania announced that it was suspending imports of Russian gas and urged other European governments to do the same.

“If we can do it, so can the rest of Europe!” President Gitana Nauseda said on Twitter, referring to Russia as an “attacker”.

Some European leaders have said that the killings in the Kiev region were tantamount to war crimes.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described the images of what happened near Kyiv as a “punch in the gut” on CNN’s “State of the Union”. The United States has previously stated that it believes Russia has committed war crimes.

“It is a barbarity against civilians that we have not seen in Europe for decades,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on the same show.

Russia called a meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday to discuss the situation in the city. The United States and Britain have recently accused Russia of using Security Council meetings to spread misinformation.

A Bhutanese resident, who declined to be named for fear of security, said Russian troops went from building to building and pulled people out of the basements where they were hiding. The resident said soldiers checked their phones for evidence of anti-Russian activity and took them or shot them.

The AP also saw two bodies, that of a man and a woman, wrapped in plastic that residents said they had covered and placed on an axis until the proper funeral was arranged.

“He raised his hands and they shot him,” said the resident, who declined to be named.

Oleksiy Arestovych, Zelenskyy’s adviser, claimed that some of the women had been raped before being killed and that the Russians had subsequently cremated the bodies.

On Monday, the Ukrainian army announced that its forces had retaken some towns in the Chernihiv region and that humanitarian aid had been delivered. The road between Chernihiv and Kiev was to be reopened for some traffic later in the morning, according to the RBK Ukraina news agency.

The mayor of Chernihiv, who has been cut off from food and other supplies for weeks, said Russian bombing had destroyed 70 percent of the northern city.

In a video posted on the Internet on Sunday, Zelensky said Russian soldiers who killed and tortured civilians were responsible for “accumulated evil.”

“It’s time to do our utmost to make the war crimes of the Russian army the latest manifestation of such evil on earth,” he said in a statement translated from his office.

The president addressed some of his remarks to the mothers of Russian soldiers.

“Even if you grew up looting, how did they become butchers?” he said. “You could not ignore the fact that they lack everything human. Without a soul. Without a heart. They killed deliberately and with pleasure.”

In Motyzhyn, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Kiev, residents told the AP that Russian troops had killed the city mayor, her husband and her son and dumped their bodies in a pit in a pine forest behind houses where the Russian forces had fallen asleep.

Inside the pit, AP reporters saw four bodies of people who appeared to have been shot at close range. The mayor’s husband had his hands behind his back, with a piece of rope close by, and a piece of plastic wrapped around his eyes like a blindfold.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk confirmed that the mayor was killed while being held by Russian forces.

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Qena reported from Motyzhyn, Ukraine. Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Ukraine accuses Russia of massacre, city strewn with bodies, some with signs of torture Source link Ukraine accuses Russia of massacre, city strewn with bodies, some with signs of torture

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