BUCHA, Ukraine, April 3 (Reuters) – Ukraine on Sunday accused Russian forces of carrying out a “massacre” in the town of Bucha, while Western nations reacted to images of dead bodies there with calls for new sanctions against Moscow.
Russia’s defence ministry denied the Ukrainian allegations, saying footage and photographs showing bodies in Bucha were “yet another provocation” by the Ukrainian government.
The images from the town, 37 km (23 miles) northwest of Kyiv’s city centre, emerged after Ukraine said on Saturday its forces had reclaimed control of the whole Kyiv region and liberated towns from Russian troops.
They prompted outrage in Ukraine and abroad, adding to pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin by increasing the likelihood of further Western sanctions. Western nations have already sought to isolate Russia economically and punish it for the invasion, which began on Feb. 24.
“Bucha massacre was deliberate,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the images as “a punch in the gut,” while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia must pay for “war crimes.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would step up sanctions, as well as military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.
“Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, adding that Western allies would agree on further sanctions in the coming days.
Germany’s defence minister Christine Lambrecht said the European Union must discuss banning the import of Russian gas – a departure from Berlin’s prior resistance to the idea of an embargo on Russian energy imports. read more
Russia requested that the U.N. Security Council convene on Monday to discuss what Moscow called a “provocation by Ukrainian radicals” in Bucha. read more
The defence ministry in Moscow described photos and videos from the town as a “staged performance.”
Russia has previously denied targeting civilians and has rejected allegations of war crimes in what it calls a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarising and “denazifying” Ukraine. Ukraine says it was invaded without provocation.
On Saturday, Reuters saw bodies in a mass grave and still lying on the streets, while on Sunday the mayor of Bucha, Anatoliy Fedoruk, showed reporters two corpses with white cloth tied around their arms, one of which appeared to have been shot in the mouth. read more
Oleksiy Arestovych, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Ukrainian troops had found the bodies of women who had been raped and set alight as well as the bodies of local officials and children.
Bucha’s mayor said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army. read more
Reuters could not immediately verify the allegations by Arestovych and Fedoruk.