Horror after atrocities in Butscha
The discovery of civilians killed near Kiev has caused international horror. The Russian army is accused of war crimes. The Kremlin rejected the accusations. Chancellor Scholz announced further sanctions by allies.
The recapture of the region around the capital Kiev has presented the Ukrainian army with a picture of horror. Russian forces left behind “a total disaster and numerous dangers,” President Volodymyr Selenskyj wrote on Facebook. He warned of mined territory and further airstrikes.
Numerous dead bodies were found in the small town of Butscha. “All these people were shot,” Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said. The streets were littered with bodies, he said. There were cars on the streets in which “whole families were killed, he said: Children, women, grandmothers, men.” According to the mayor, 280 people in Butcha had to be buried in mass graves because the three municipal cemeteries were still within reach of the Russian military.
Selenskyj: “This is genocide”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj accuses Russia of genocide in Ukraine. “Certainly, this is genocide,” Selenskyj says on the U.S. CBS network. “The extermination of a nation and its people.” The citizens of Ukraine did not want to submit to the policies of the Russian Federation. “This is the reason why we are being destroyed and exterminated.”
Zelenskyi’s adviser, Olexy Arestovych, compared the scenes in the suburbs of Kiev to “a horror movie.” Some victims had been shot in the head and had their hands tied, he said, and some of the bodies showed signs of torture. He accused Russian troops of raping the women and trying to burn their bodies.
Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko accused Russian troops of war crimes. “What happened in Butsha and other suburbs of Kiev can only be called genocide,” he told the Bild newspaper. He added that these were cruel war crimes for which Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible. Civilians had been shot with joined hands, he said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for tougher sanctions against Russia over mounting evidence of atrocities committed against civilians in the suburbs of the capital, Kiev. He spoke of a massacre of civilians. He tweeted that the killings were premeditated, adding that the “Russians are trying to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can.”
EU Commission Head Speaks of War Crimes
The discoveries also triggered international horror. EU Council President Charles Michel accused Russian troops of causing a massacre in Butscha. He said the EU would help gather evidence to bring those responsible before international courts. At the same time, he announced further EU sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke of “unspeakable horrors.” On Twitter, she demanded an independent investigation. At the same time, she assured that those responsible for war crimes would be held accountable.
Scholz: The war “must stop
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “We must relentlessly investigate these crimes committed by the Russian military. I demand that international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross be given access to these areas to independently document the atrocities.” In addition, he called on Moscow “to finally agree to a cease-fire and stop the fighting. It is a terrible war, a senseless war, and a war that cannot be justified by anything, which creates a lot of suffering and benefits no one. It must stop.”
Scholz also made clear: “We will decide on further measures in the circle of allies in the coming days.” He added that Germany will continue to supply Ukraine with weapons so that it can defend itself against Russia.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also announced tougher sanctions against Moscow and further aid for the Ukrainian military. The images of “unrestrained violence” from the village of Butcha near the Ukrainian capital of Kiev after the withdrawal of Russian troops were “unbearable,” Baerbock wrote on Twitter. “Those responsible for these war crimes must be held accountable.”
Habeck announces tougher sanctions
German Economics Minister Robert Habeck also quickly called for tougher sanctions against Russia. However, he continued to reject an import ban imposed by Germany itself, for example on Russian gas and oil supplies, on ZDF television. “We are, after all, pursuing a strategy of making ourselves independent of Russian gas, of coal, of oil, just not immediately,” Habeck said.
Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht had previously stated in the report from Berlin that after the events in Butscha, the topic of energy supplies must also be the subject of discussion for further consequences. The issue of stopping gas deliveries must also be discussed among EU ministers.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that “the war crimes committed by Russia are visible before the eyes of the world.” He said the images from Butscha were deeply shocking. “Ukraine’s representatives have every right to accuse Russia and to demand solidarity and support from their friends and partners.”
British Foreign Secretary appalled by atrocities
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wrote on Twitter that she was “appalled by the atrocities in Butsha and other towns.” Alleged attacks on civilians in Ukraine should be investigated as war crimes, she said. Britain would support such a move by the International Criminal Court.
“With the forced withdrawal of Russian troops, there is growing evidence of horrific acts by the invaders in places like Irpin and Butscha,” Truss shared. “Arbitrary attacks on innocent civilians during Russia’s unlawful and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes.”
Russia denies mass murder in Butcha
The Russian government rejected responsibility for the killings in Butsha. Any footage and images published by Ukraine in this context constitute a provocation, RIA reported, citing the Russian Defense Ministry. All Russian units left Butcha on March 30, the Interfax agency reported.