Vladimir Zelensky will address the UN Security Council on Tuesday amid global disgust at the apparently deliberate killings of civilians by Russian troops in Ukraine as the United States and the EU prepare additional sanctions against rebellious Moscow.
The Ukrainian president is expected to demand tough economic measures against Russia after the mass grave and bodies of civilians, some with their hands tied, were found in the city of Bucha near Kyiv.
Zelensky, who visited Bucha on Monday after officials said the bodies of 410 civilians had been found in cities in the Kyiv region as Russian troops withdrew, described the killings as war crimes that would be “recognized by the world as genocide”. “.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying that intensive talks between Moscow and Kyiv were continuing via video link, and Zelensky admitted in a televised interview Tuesday that talks with Russia were still the only option.
But he said negotiations have been a “challenge” since the killings, adding that he and Putin may not be in talks in person. Early in the morning, he said in a video address that Bucha was “just one city” and the number of civilian casualties in others, including Borodyanka 15 miles (25km) west, could be “much higher”.
Zelenski in Bucha on Monday. Photo: Marco Jurica / Reuters
Images of the bodies of what appear to be civilians shot at close range in the streets of Bucha have sparked international condemnation of Moscow, calls for even tougher sanctions and demands that those responsible be tried for war crimes.
Russia has denied responsibility, suggesting the images were fake or that the deaths occurred after the withdrawal of Russian forces. However, satellite images taken before the download show bodies in some of the same locations where they were later found.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said the atrocities were committed by Ukrainian nationalists, adding that Russia would present additional “factual evidence” to the Security Council in that regard on Tuesday.
Russia’s defense ministry has accused Ukrainian special services of staging killings of civilians to spread propaganda in the Western media, saying similar “events” were also “organized by Ukrainian special forces in Sumy, Konotop and other cities.”
Dmitry Medvedev, one of Putin’s closest allies and deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said the killings were “counterfeits matured in the cynical imagination of Ukrainian propaganda” and “fabricated for huge sums of money.”
Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said Bucha was “a provocation aimed at discrediting Russia”, with “Washington and Brussels being the screenwriters and directors and Kyiv being the actors”. No facts – just lies. “
However, satellite images from Maxar Technologies on a street in Bucha on March 19 and 21 appear to show several bodies in exactly the same position as videos and photos taken this weekend on the same street.
A satellite image published by Maxar Technologies shows a view of Jablonska Street in Bucha, Ukraine. Photo: Satellite image © 2022 Maxar Tech / AFP / Getty Images
An analysis of close-ups of the New York Times on Yablonska Street in Bucha concluded, after comparing them with videos from April 1st and 2nd, that many corpses had been there since at least three weeks ago, when Russian forces controlled the city.
Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, called the Bucha photos “horrifying, horrifying, likely evidence of war crimes and possibly genocide” and said the Security Council “should think about how to deal with it”.
Amid growing outrage on Monday, US President Joe Biden called Putin a “war criminal” and called for a “war crimes trial”. The White House has promised that new sanctions against Moscow will be announced this week. The United States and the United Kingdom have also called for Russia to be removed from the UN Human Rights Council.
As Italy and Denmark join France and Germany in expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky later this week, accompanied by Josep Borrell. a senior diplomat in the bloc, her spokesman said Tuesday.
France has suggested that new measures could target Russian oil and coal exports, although Germany has warned it is too early to cut off Russian gas. Clement Bonn, France’s French minister, said on Tuesday that the EU was likely to adopt a new round of sanctions against Russia on Wednesday.
On the front line of Ukraine: “Only the dead are not afraid” – video
Russia supplies about a third of European gas, and officials in several EU countries have called for caution over measures that could lead to a European energy crisis, despite Putin’s efforts to use energy as a lever to fight Western sanctions.
Zelensky said sanctions should be significantly stepped up after the Bucha killings, adding: “But … did hundreds of our people have to die in agony so that some European leaders could finally understand that the Russian state deserves the most the heaviest pressure?
The Ukrainian president also called for additional weapons from Western allies, saying more equipment could save thousands. “I don’t blame you – I only blame the Russian military,” he said. “But you could have helped.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had talked to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about Bucha, stressing that Ukraine would “use all available UN mechanisms to gather evidence and hold Russian war criminals accountable.” Kuleba also spoke with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
The worst conflict in Europe in decades, which began with Russia’s invasion on February 24, has killed 20,000 people, according to Ukrainian estimates. The UN refugee agency said more than 4.2 million refugees had fled the country, while the International Organization for Migration said nearly 6.5 million people were internally displaced.