Dead bodies in Bucha spark push for harsher action against Russia

Images of dead civilians lining the streets of the Ukrainian city of Bucha have drawn international outcry, calls for an investigation and western pledges to take harsher actions against Russia.

After Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, was recaptured by Ukrainian forces, journalists and officials shared images of corpses lining the streets. On Saturday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak shared a photo of bodies on the streets with their hands tied behind their backs.

According to Podoliak, they were shot dead by Russian soldiers.

“The Ukrainian city of Bucha was in the hands of [Russian] animals for several weeks. Local civilians were being executed arbitrarily, some with hands tied behind their backs, their bodies scattered in the streets of the city,” Ukraine’s defense ministry said in a statement.

Nearly 300 other bodies were found in a mass grave in Bucha, according to the city’s mayor Anatoly Fedoruk, all having been shot dead.

Multiple European leaders called for increased sanctions against Russia over the apparent atrocities, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech on Sunday that the “war crimes” would be considered by the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.

“There will definitely be a new package of sanctions against Russia. But I’m sure that’s not enough. More conclusions are needed. Not only about Russia, but also about the political behavior that actually allowed this evil to come to our land,” Zelensky said.

“I want all the leaders of the Russian Federation to see how their orders are being fulfilled. Such orders. Such a fulfillment. And joint responsibility. For these murders, for these tortures, for these arms torn off by explosions that lie on the streets. For shots in the back of the head of tied people,” added Zelensky. “This is how the Russian state will now be perceived. This is your image.”

Ukrainian foreign affairs minister Dmytro Kuleba also shared the chilling images along with a call for “devastating G7 sanctions NOW.”

Governments from around the world were quick to echo Kuleba’s call, with countries like Poland and Germany calling for an enhanced response.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki labelled the killings in Bucha a “genocide” in a Facebook post on Sunday, calling on those responsible to be “punished by international tribunals.”

“The European Union must confiscate Russia’s assets in Western European banks. Confiscate the assets of Russian oligarchs. The Union must break off all commercial relations with Russia as soon as possible. European money must stop flowing to the Kremlin,” Morawiecki said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson similarly said the scenes found in Bucha were further evidence of Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin having committed war crimes in Ukraine.

“I will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine. We are stepping up our sanctions and military support, as well as bolstering our humanitarian support package to help those in need on the ground,” Johnson said in a statement Sunday.

German Chancellor Olaf in a statement demanded that international organization be given access to Bucha to document the scene and called for the Russian military to be investigated for its “crimes” and to be held accountable.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the images from Bucha “a punch to the gut.”

“We have said before Russia’s aggression that we thought it was likely that they would commit atrocities. Since the aggression, we have come out and said that we believe that Russian forces have committed war crimes,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The Russian Defense Ministry has denied the accusations of war crimes, going so far as to claim that “not a single local resident” was harmed in Bucha. The ministry claimed that the images from Bucha were “another production by the Kiev regime for the Western media.”

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