Zelenskyy calls Russian troops murderers, outrage grows over ‘war crimes’


Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of a “deliberate massacre”, while Zelenskyy’s spokesman, Sergiy Nikiforov, said the killings in Bucha “looks exactly like war crimes”.

Russia’s defence ministry pushed back, saying “not a single local resident” in Bucha suffered violence.

It accused Kyiv of falsifying images of corpses in “another production” for Western media.

Moscow’s deputy ambassador to the UN said Russia had requested a UN Security Council meeting on Monday “in light of heinous provocation of Ukrainian radicals in Bucha” – but a senior Washington official said the move was designed to “feign outrage”.

The deaths have heightened calls for new measures against Russia.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he was in favour of fresh sanctions.

“There are very clear indications of war crimes. It was the Russian army that was in Bucha,” Macron told the France Inter broadcaster.

He said new measures could target the oil and coal industries.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said new sanctions would be decided “in the coming days”, with his defence minister raising the possibility of an end to gas imports.

“(Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences,” Scholz said.

Other European officials, including Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, said the EU “must respond strongly with tougher sanctions”, while Zelenskyy said, “there will definitely be a new package of sanctions against Russia”.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday called for an international investigation into what he termed a “genocide”.

And Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain “will do everything … to deal with these alleged cases of (crimes against) humanity, war crimes and why not say it too, genocide”.


The Ukrainian leader warned that the worst could be yet to come as Moscow refocuses its attention on the south and east of the country, in a bid to create a land link between occupied Crimea and the Russian-backed separatist statelets of Donetsk and Luhansk.

“Russian troops still control the occupied areas of other regions, and after the expulsion of the occupiers, even worse things could be found there, even more deaths and tortures,” he said.

He also appeared in a taped message at the Grammys, urging people to “tell the truth about this war … support us in any way you can, any, but not silence”.

Europe’s worst conflict in decades, sparked by Russia’s invasion on Feb 24, has already killed 20,000 people, according to Ukrainian estimates.

Nearly 4.2 million Ukrainians have fled the country, with almost 40,000 pouring into neighbouring countries in the last 24 hours alone, the UN refugee agency said.

In the eastern city of Kramatorsk, women, children and elderly people were boarding trains to flee the Donbas region.

“The rumour is that something terrible is coming,” said Svetlana, a volunteer organising the crowd on the station platform.

Russia has redoubled its efforts in Ukraine’s south and east, including carrying out several strikes Sunday on the strategic Black Sea port of Odessa, which Moscow said targeted an oil refinery and fuel depots.

“We were woken up by the first explosion, then we saw a flash in the sky, then another, then another. I lost count,” resident Mykola, 22, told AFP.

Britain’s defence ministry said recent Russian air activity had been focused on southeastern Ukraine, adding that heavy fighting was continuing in the devastated and besieged southern city of Mariupol.

“The city continues to be subject to intense, indiscriminate strikes,” the ministry said in an update on Twitter.

The UN’s top humanitarian envoy Martin Griffiths is expected in Kyiv soon after arriving in Moscow on Sunday in an attempt to halt the fighting.

And peace talks are scheduled to resume by video on Monday, though Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said it was too early for a top-level meeting between Zelenskyy and Putin.

He said Kyiv had become “more realistic” in its approach to issues related to the neutral and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, but a draft agreement for submission to a summit meeting was not ready.

Ukraine has proposed abandoning its aspirations to join NATO and declaring official neutrality if it obtains security guarantees from Western countries.

It has proposed temporarily shelving the question of Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, and two breakaway territories in the Donbas that Russia has recognised as independent.

Medinsky said Russia’s position on Crimea and the Donbas “remains unchanged”.

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