Ukraine's Zelensky visits recaptured city of Bucha, decries killings of civilians

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) walks in the street in the recaptured city of Bucha in the Kyiv area of Ukraine on Monday. Photo courtesy of Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/EPA-EFE
1 of 9 | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) walks in the street in the recaptured city of Bucha in the Kyiv area of Ukraine on Monday. Photo courtesy of Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/EPA-EFE

April 4 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday visited the city of Bucha and others in the Kyiv region where Russian forces are accused of committing war crimes.

"We want you to show the world what happened here. What the Russian military did. What the Russian Federation did in peaceful Ukraine," he told reporters. "It was important for you to see that these were civilians."


In social media posts, Zelensky told of what he witnessed in the cities.

"With my own eyes I saw Bucha, Irpin, Stoyanka after the occupation," he said. "We will do our best to bring them back to life as soon as possible."

He later added, "The pain of looking at what the occupiers did to our people is excruciating. They will have to bear responsibility for every war crime and for all the suffering they have brought to our land."


Ukraine's foreign ministry posted graphic photos of charred, bloodied bodies of men, women and children in Bucha, including one of a person apparently shot while riding a bicycle whose dog was still guarding the body of its slain master.

The ministry also posted a group of graphic photos of bodies found in a children's camp in Bucha.

"All bodies are with their hands tied. All were tortured, some had their legs shot, some had 5 bullets in the heart, some got shot in the head," Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar wrote on Twitter. "The Russians lived there for a month."

Zelensky later said during an address to the Romanian Parliament that "the name of our city Bucha is now forever in world history -- in the history of war crimes, in the history of extermination of people."

More than 300 of the city's residents were tortured, shot or otherwise killed, he said, adding that residents "were handcuffed behind their backs, shot in the back of the head or in the eye," while civilian vehicles with occupants still inside were crushed by military equipment.

"Women and girls were raped," he added.

Ukrainian officials said hundreds of bodies of civilians have been found in liberated cities near the capital Kyiv as international anger mounts against Russia over its alleged war crimes with some world leaders saying they amount to genocide.


Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine's prosecutor general, said Sunday on Facebook that 410 bodies of Ukrainian civilians have been removed from the Kyiv region since Friday.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, called the Kyiv region a "21st century hell."

"This is a planned genocide," he said in a tweet.

"The worst crimes of Nazism have returned to [Europe]," he said in another, calling on world leaders to impose an energy resource embargo on Russia. "Stop the murders!"

Ukrainian soldiers inspect a destroyed Russian tank in Bucha, Ukraine, on Sunday. Photo by Vladyslav Musienko/UPI

Russia has rebuked the accusations by Podolyak as "fake," with its ministry of defense posting a statement to Telegram accusing Ukraine of being responsible for the mass grave and for having "deliberately laid out" bodies in the street "to create a more dramatic picture."

World leaders have vowed to aid Ukraine in its push to prosecute and punish Russia and its leadership for war crimes.

"He is a war criminal," U.S. President Joe Biden said in Washington on Monday, renewing his accusations against Russian President Vladimir Putin. "But we have to gather the information, we have to continue to provide Ukraine with weapons to continue the fight and we have to get all the details so this can have a wartime trial."


"This guy is brutal," he said. "And what's happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone's seen it."

Biden was firm that he doesn't think the alleged crimes meet the genocide threshold with national security advisor Jake Sullivan explaining to reporters later in the day that they will continue to monitor the situation.

Concerning further sanctions, he said to expect them imposed this week.

The European Union also vowed to impose tough sanctions against Russia and to pursue war crime charges against those responsible.

"The perpetrators of war crimes and other serious violations, as well as the responsible government officials and military leaders will be held accountable," the EU Council said Monday in a statement. "The European Union supports all measures to ensure accountability for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine by Russian armed forces."

The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into possible Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine going back to 2013, and the EU said Monday it is in full support and was assisting Venediktova with the collection and preservation of evidence.

Since Russia's invasion on Feb. 24, democratic nations have hit Moscow with steep sanctions that have taken a bite out of its economy.


With the new revelations of potential war crimes, the EU said it will advance further punitive measures against Russia "as a matter of urgency."

Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister of Poland, said Monday the "genocide" committed by Russia in Bucha "changes everything in the perception of this war," while calling for even stiffer sanctions to be imposed against Russia.

"The time for calculations is over, the brutality of the totalitarian-fascist regime from Russia touches a growing group of Ukrainian citizens," he said on Facebook. "Instead of discussing human rights in warm conference rooms, start defending them finally!"

On Sunday after the revelations of the atrocities, Morawiecki demanded a meeting of the European Council to be convened as soon as possible.

He also called for all Russia-owned assets and those of Russian oligarchs in Western banks to be confiscated and for all trade relations with Moscow to be immediately severed.

"European money must stop flowing to the Kremlin," he said in a statement. "Putin's criminal and increasingly totalitarian regime needs to have one thing imposed on it: SANCTIONS WHICH ACTUALLY WORK."

He called for more arms to be deployed to Russia, saying it was their "political and moral duty" to do so.


"Enough of the false gestures and avoidance tactics," he said. "Enough!"

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said they must "ruthlessly investigate" the alleged war crimes committed by the Russian army.

"We will decide on further measures among allies in the next few days," he said Sunday in a statement. "President [Vladimir] Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences."

Scenes from the rubble: Russian forces attack Ukraine capital, Kyiv

Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

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