Ukraine: World responds with outrage to civilian killings in Bucha
By Vatican News staff writer
Global outrage continues to mount against Russia as Ukrainian authorities said that the bodies of over 410 civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv after the Russian pullout from the besieged city.
Photos and videos online purportedly showed the streets of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, with corpses of what appeared to be civilians, some with their hands tied behind their back. The images have sparked international condemnation of Russia, with US President Joe Biden, accusing his Russian counterpart of war crimes and calling for a trial.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Monday, said that the country will create a special justice mechanism to conduct inquiries into alleged atrocities, with investigations involving international inspectors, prosecutors, and judges. Zelenskyy is also set to address the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.
Germany, France expel Russian diplomats
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Monday in a statement that Germany will expel a significant number of Russian diplomats, linking the move to the reported atrocities in Bucha.
Baerbock added that Germany will be launching further responses with its partners and will further tighten existing sanctions against Russia. The country will also expand its support for Ukrainian armed forces and strengthen NATO’s eastern flank.
In a similar move, France also announced on Monday that it will expel numerous Russian diplomats “whose activities are contrary to our security interests,” calling the move part of a European response and adding that its first responsibility is to “ensure the security of French and European citizens.”
Lithuania also said earlier that it had expelled the Russian ambassador to Vilnius and it was recalling its top diplomat in Moscow in response to the distressing reports from Bucha.
Russia, in reaction, has rejected Western accusations that Russian forces were responsible for the alleged civilian deaths in the besieged town.
US, UK request Russia’s removal from UN human rights council
Meanwhile, the United States and Britain announced plans to seek Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council following allegations that Russian troops killed civilians in Bucha.
“We cannot let a Member State that is subverting every principle we hold dear to continue to participate” in the council, the US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said in a tweet on Monday.
“In close coordination with Ukraine and other Member States and partners at the UN, the United States is going to seek Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council,” she added.
British foreign secretary Liz Truss also tweeted her agreement, saying: “Given strong evidence of war crimes, including reports of mass graves and heinous butchery in Bucha, Russia cannot remain a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Russia must be suspended.”
Truss also noted that the reports of shallow graves outside Kyiv are “truly horrifying” and that the UK is working with allies and the ICC to ensure the perpetrators are held to account. She added, “We will not rest until Russia has paid the price for these appalling crimes.”
Several other Western countries have expressed their indignation against Russia, and plans are in motion to adopt new measures against Moscow after having acted on several sets of sanctions since 24 February, including targeting oligarchs, companies, banks, and senior officials.
Russia preparing fresh assault
Ukraine’s defense ministry on Monday said that Russia is preparing to launch a big attack in eastern Ukraine and take the northeastern city of Kharkiv.
Defense ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said that Russia was paving the way for an assault on Severodonetsk by attacking Rubizhne and Popasna in the Luhansk region.
Meanwhile, the governor of Luhansk, Sergiy Gaiday, has urged a mass evacuation of the area, urging residents not to wait for their homes to be bombed.