Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has given the UN security council a harrowing account of atrocities in his country and demanded Russian leaders “be brought to justice for war crimes”. Zelenskiy called for an international tribunal similar to the Nuremberg trials of Nazis after the second world war, speaking of Russian forces: “There is not a single crime that they would not commit there.”
Atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha are “only one of many examples of what the occupiers have been doing on our land for the past 41 days,” Zelenskiy said, adding that there were many more that the world had yet to learn the full truth about. “Russia wants to turn Ukraine into silent slaves,” he said.
The Ukraine president also questioned the ability of the UN security council to provide security. “The UN Security Council exists, and security in the world doesn’t. For anyone,” he said in his nightly address. “Now Kyiv is the capital of global democracy, the capital of the struggle for freedom for all on the European continent.”
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said he will “never forget the horrifying images of civilians killed” in Bucha. Speaking at the UN security council in New York, he said the war in Ukraine is “one of the greatest challenges ever” to the “international order”. The UN undersecretary general for political and peacebuilding affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, said allegations of sexual violence perpetrated by Russian forces include “gang-rape and rapes in front of children”.
The Ukrainian human rights ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, said between 150 and 300 bodies may be in a mass grave by a church in the town of Bucha. She did not say how the authorities had reached the estimate.
Satellite imagery of Bucha street published by Maxar Technologies from 19 and 21 March appears to show several bodies in exactly the same position as in video footage and photos taken this weekend in the same street. UK’s ministry of defense said eight bodies had lain on the street for at least ten days before the town was reclaimed from Russian forces.
Displaced residents of Bucha should not yet return to their homes because there are still mines in the area after Russian troops withdrew from the town, its mayor, Anatoliy Fedoruk, said. Fedoruk said about 3,700 civilians had stayed in Bucha, which had a pre-war population of about 37,000, throughout the Russian occupation.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the evidence from Bucha shows “a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities” by Russian forces. “The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see,” he told reporters. The UN human rights office spokespersonLiz Throssell, said all the signs from Bucha pointed towards civilians having been directly targeted and killed.
At the UN security council, India condemned the killing of civilians in the Bucha and called for an independent investigation. Israel also condemned Russia’s “war crimes” in Ukraine in a statement.
The Kremlin said allegations that Russian forces committed war crimes by executing civilians in Bucha were a “monstrous forgery” aimed at “denigrating” the Russian army. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that remarks by US president Joe Biden calling for Russian president Vladimir Putin to be tried for war crimes were unacceptable and unworthy of a US leader.
We visited Trostianetsa town close to the Russian border, the Guardian found evidence of summary executions, torture and systematic looting during the month of occupation. Yuriy Bova, the mayor of Trostianets, said it was too early to give a reliable estimate of how many civilians the Russians had killed, saying it was: “definitely more than 50, but probably not hundreds”.
The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Nato and G7 foreign ministers meeting on Wednesday and Thursday will discuss the delivery of advanced weapons to Ukraine. Ammunition, medical supplies and “high-end” weapons systems would also be discussed, he added.
The US and its allies are planning more sanctions on Russia with the objective to “deplete the resources that Putin has to continue his war against Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. The new penalties will include a ban on all new investment in Russia and greater sanctions on its financial institutions and state-owned enterprises. Separately, the US Treasury Department moved to block any Russian government debt payments with US dollars from accounts at US financial institutions, making it harder for Russia to meet its financial obligations.
The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the EU is also proposing new sanctions against Russia, including an import ban on coal worth €4bn (£3.3bn) per year. The package will include a full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, a ban on Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels accessing EU ports, as well as targeted export and import bans.
U.S. Army Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States should look at the development of more bases in eastern Europe to protect against Russian aggression, but rotate forces through them rather than make permanent deployments. Milley suggests the conflict would extend beyond Ukraine and continue for “at least” years.
Almost two hundred Russian diplomatic staff have been expelled from European countries this week in a direct expression of governments’ outrage at the killings of Ukrainian civilians. In what amounts to one of the biggest diplomatic breakdowns of recent years, 206 Russian diplomats and embassy staff have been told since Monday they are no longer welcome to stay by governments in Italy, France, Germany and elsewhere.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Russian citizens not to fall for Putin’s propaganda, and to circumvent tough internet censorship rules by installing technology to discover the full extent of war crimes committed during the invasion of Ukraine.