BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russians of horrific atrocities in Ukraine and told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that those responsible should be immediately charged with war crimes before a tribunal similar to the one set up in Nuremberg after World War II. .
Zelensky, appearing in a video from Ukraine, said that civilians were shot in the back of the head after torture, grenades were blown up in apartments and tanks were clamped in cars.
“Limbs were cut off, throats were cut. Women were raped and killed in front of their children. Their tongues were torn out only because their aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them, ”he said, citing what he called the worst atrocities since World War II.
Over the past few days, horrific images of mass killings by Russian troops on the outskirts of Kiev before they retreated from the capital have disgusted the world and forced Western countries to expel dozens of Moscow diplomats and propose additional sanctions. , including a ban on imports of coal from Russia.
He said both those who committed the murders and those who gave the orders “should be brought to justice immediately for war crimes” before a tribunal similar to that used in post-war Germany.
Echoing what the Kremlin had been saying for several days, Moscow’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, denied that Russian troops had targeted civilians, saying the horrors had been staged by Ukrainians.
“You only saw what you were shown,” he said. “The only ones who will get into it are Western amateurs.”
Journalists from the Associated Press in the city counted dozens of corpses in plainclothes and interviewed Ukrainians who told witnesses to the atrocities. In addition, high-resolution satellite images from Maxar Technologies showed that many bodies lay in the open for several weeks while Russian forces were in the city.
Zelensky stressed that Bucha is just one place and that there are more such horrors – a warning repeated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“If and when they withdraw their troops and the Ukrainian troops take control, I am afraid they will see more mass graves, more atrocities and examples of war crimes,” he said.
Stoltenberg, meanwhile, warned that Russia would regroup its forces to deploy them in eastern and southern Ukraine for the “decisive phase of the war.”
Ukrainian officials said the bodies of at least 410 civilians had been found in cities repulsed by Russian troops around Kyiv, and a “torture chamber” had been found in Bucha.
Zelensky told the Security Council that “there was no crime” that the Russian military did not commit in Bucha, and compared their actions to those of the Islamic State.
“The Russian military searched for and purposefully killed everyone who served our country. They shot and killed women near their homes when they were just trying to call any of the survivors. They killed whole families, adults and children, and tried to burn the bodies, ”he said. They used tanks to crush civilians “just for fun,” he said.
On Tuesday, police and other investigators walked the quiet streets of Bucha, recording the bodies the residents showed them. Survivors who hid in their homes during the month-long Russian occupation of the city, many of them older than middle-aged, wandered past charred tanks and uneven windows with plastic bags of food and other humanitarian aid. Red Cross workers inspected the houses intact.
Many of the victims seen by AP reporters seemed to have been shot at close range, and some had their hands tied or their bodies burned. Bodies wrapped in plastic lay in the mass grave at the churchyard.
AP and PBS series “Frontline” conducted a joint inspection at least 90 incidents during the war that appear to violate international humanitarian law. The War Crimes Watch Ukraine project includes details of overt targeted attacks as well as the indiscriminate destruction of civilian buildings and infrastructure.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the pictures from Bucha show “not an accidental act of fraud” but “a deliberate campaign of murder, torture, rape and atrocities.” He said reports of atrocities were “more than credible” and that the United States and other countries would seek to bring those responsible to justice.
“Only non-humans are capable of that,” said Andzelika Chernomor, a refugee from Kyiv who moved to Poland with her two children and saw a photo from Bucha. “Even if people live under a totalitarian regime, they have to retain feelings, dignity, but they don’t.”
Black Sea is among more than 4 million Ukrainians who fled the country on February 24.
Russia has denied the allegations atrocities in the past, accusing their enemies of forging photos and videos and using so-called crisis actors.
As Western leaders condemn the Bucha killings, Italy, Spain and Denmark have expelled dozens of Russian diplomats on Tuesday after the steps of Germany and France. Hundreds of Russian diplomats have been sent home since the invasion began, many of them accused of spying.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the deportations a “short-sighted” measure that would complicate communication, and warned that they would be met with “mutual steps.”
In another statement of support, the executive branch of the European Union proposed to ban the import of coal from Russia, for the first time when a bloc of 27 countries imposed sanctions on the country’s lucrative energy sector in connection with the war. Coal imports are about 4 billion euros ($ 4.4 billion) a year.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has condemned Moscow’s “terrible crimes” around Kyiv.
Hours before the announcement of the latest proposal, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that in order to prevent a “new Bucha”, the West should impose the “mother of all sanctions” – on Russian oil and gas.
“Several months of belt-tightening cost thousands of lives saved,” he said.
But Western countries are divided on how far to go. While some are calling for a boycott of Russian oil and gas, Germany and others fear the move could plunge the continent into a severe economic crisis.
Western weapons have allowed Ukraine to put up tougher-than-expected resistance to Russia’s overwhelming firepower. This resistance has stopped Russian forces from capturing the capital and other cities, and many troops are now being withdrawn from areas around Kiev.
But Western and Ukrainian officials say Russia is simply regrouping for another offensive in the Donbass industrial region in the east, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops for the past eight years. The Donbass includes the destroyed port city of Mariupol.
“Moscow is not giving up its ambitions in Ukraine,” said Stoltenberg of NATO. “We expect a further push in eastern and southern Ukraine to try to capture the entire Donbass and create a land bridge” to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Yuras Karmanov in Lviv, Ukraine; Edith Lederer at the United Nations; and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.
Follow the coverage of the AP war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine