Zelensky accuses Russia of ‘genocide’ as he visits Bucha mass graves

Zelensky accuses Russia of ‘genocide’ as he visits Bucha mass graves
‘We know of thousands of people killed and tortured, with their limbs cut off, women raped, children killed,’ says Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has visited the city of Bucha where Vladimir Putin’s troops reportedly killed dozens of civilians in what has been widely condemned as a war crime.

Mr Zelensky was flanked by security as he met with residents to speak about the violence enacted on them by Russian forces. During the visit he denounced the killings as “genocide” and “war crimes”.

Speaking to reporters about the deaths of civilians in Ukraine, he told reporters: “It will be recognised by the world as genocide. We know of thousands of people killed and tortured, with their limbs cut off, women raped, children killed.”

He added that it would be “very difficult” to continue negotiation with Russia following discovery of the atrocities.

Dozens of dead civilians had been found on the streets of the small city of Bucha and the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, after Russian forces retreated.

Associated Press said its journalists saw 21 bodies. One group of nine, all in civilian clothes, were scattered around a site which residents said Russian troops used as a base.

They appeared to have been shot at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs. Reuters journalists saw one man sprawled by the roadside, with his hands tied behind his back and a bullet wound to his head.

<p>Ukainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Bucha on Monday</p>

Ukainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Bucha on Monday

Satellite images from private company Maxar revealed a 45-foot-long trench in Bucha where a number of mass graves were found. Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around the capital, Kyiv.

In a video address on Sunday night, Mr Zelensky said the accused the Russian forces were “murderers, torturers, rapists, looters – who call themselves the army”.

The Kremlin has denied any accusations related to the murder of civilians, including in Bucha, where it said the graves and corpses had been staged by Ukraine to tarnish Russia.

The Russian Defence Ministry rejected Ukraine’s accusation of an alleged massacre, saying its armed forces completely left the town as early as March 30.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, said on Monday that the situation in the Ukrainian town a “fake attack” aimed at undermining Moscow, the TASS news agency reported.

However, US President Joe Biden said that Russian leader Vladimir Putin should stand trial before international authorities as a war criminal.

Mr Biden made the remarks to reporters on the White House lawn.

“We have to gather all the details” in order to “actually have war crimes trial,” Mr Biden said.

<p>Zelensky looks on as he stands with a number of Ukrainian servicemen</p>

Zelensky looks on as he stands with a number of Ukrainian servicemen

The attacks on civilians led to condemnations from other Western leaders, with UK prime minister Boris Johnson describing the incidents in Bucha as “despicable” and added that “we will not rest until justice is served”.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that there was “clear evidence of war crimes” in Bucha that demand a new round of Russian sanctions.

“There are very clear clues pointing to war crimes. It is more or less established that the Russian army is responsible [for the Bucha killings],” Mr Macron told French media. Mr Macron proposed that the new sanctions could target Russian oil and coal.

<p>Zelensky spoke to the media and again accused Russian forces of “genocide"</p>

Zelensky spoke to the media and again accused Russian forces of “genocide”

It comes as the UN Security Council is preparing to discuss Ukraine on Tuesday. UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet told its Human Rights Council that strikes and heavy shelling during Russia’s invasion had killed civilians in acts that might amount to war crimes.

The United States will ask the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia from the Rights Council, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

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Additional reporting by agencies

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