Ukrainians returning to Kyiv as Russian forces pulled out over the weekend found a shocking trail of destruction and death, including slain civilians lying on the streets with their hands bound.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said scores of the dead were found on the streets of Bucha and the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel in what looked like a “scene from a horror movie.”
Arestovych said some people were shot in the head and had their hands bound, and some bodies showed signs of torture, rape and burning.
Zelenskyy said Sunday that the deadly attacks on civilians – including evidence of a massacre in the city of Bucha – are more proof that Russia is committing “genocide” in his country.
Noting that Ukraine’s population includes more than 100 nationalities, Zelenskyy told CBS’ “Face The Nation” that Russia’s actions are “about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities. We are citizens of Ukraine, and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of the Russian Federation.”
While Russia redeploys troops in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, Zelenskyy called for a total Russian withdrawal from Ukraine. There are no signs Russia would consider such a move as part of peace talks. “This is the bare minimum that we have to start the de-occupation with,” he said.
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Ukrainian servicemen check streets for booby traps in the formerly Russian-occupied Kyiv suburb of Bucha on April 2, 2022.
►Over 4,000 citizens of Ukraine evacuated along humanitarian corridors on Saturday, officials said.
►The president of Lithuania on Saturday announced it would no longer import Russian gas, making it the first nation in the European Union to achieve independence from Russian gas supplies.
►A Russian group that monitors political arrests says 208 people were detained in demonstrations held Saturday across the country protesting Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
Blinken: US, allies collecting evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine
Amid a flood of new pictures of murdered civilians in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that allies are collecting evidence of war crimes by Russia.
“We can’t become numb to this, we can’t normalize this,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“We will look hard and document everything that we see, put it all together,” he said.
Blinken did a round of Sunday show as news organizations flashed pictures of slain civilians and property destruction after Russian troops withdrew from Bucha, near Kyiv. He described the Bucha massacre as a “punch in the gut.”
The secretary of state expressed cautious optimism about signs of Russian withdrawal from areas around Kyiv. He noted that the Russians also appear to be redeploying to the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine.
“They could be regrouping,” Blinken said.
Either way, Blinken said the war has already been a “dramatic strategic setback” for Russia, and that the Ukrainian people have made it clear they will not be subjugated by a Russian occupation.
– David Jackson
EU developing new Russia sanctions
The EU will level new sanctions in the wake of killings of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, the president of the European Council said Sunday. Charles Michel, tweeting about “haunting images” out of Bucha, said “further EU sanctions & support are on their way.”
The EU is helping Ukraine and nongovernmental organizations gather evidence for investigations of Russia by international courts for its actions in Ukraine, he said. The U.N.’s International Court of Justice last month ruled that Russia should “immediately suspend” its military operations in Ukraine.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko is among the officials accusing Russia of war crimes, telling the German newspaper BILD: “What happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide.”
In an interview published Saturday, the former chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunals, Carla Del Ponte, called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin is a war criminal,” she told Swiss newspaper Le Temps.
– Katie Wadington
Kirby mum on Belgorod attack responsibility
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Sunday dismissed questions surrounding Friday’s explosion at a Russian fuel depot in Belgorod. The attacked facility housed civilian-used petroleum.
While the Russians have pinned the attack on Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declined to take responsibility for it. The attack was the first inside Russia since it invaded its neighbor Feb. 24.
Kirby, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” also declined to attribute the attack to the Ukrainians: “I’ll let (Zelenskyy) speak to the operations that they conduct, that’s the appropriate thing. We want to preserve as much of their operational security as we can.”
The Pentagon spokesman emphasized that the Ukrainians have a right to defend themselves and that the U.S. is focused on helping them do that. “Russia is the aggressor and they are attacking inside Ukraine, very very brutally,” Kirby said. “It’s not just that they’re hitting oil and weapons depots and airfields, I mean they’re hitting residential areas, they’re killing civilians.”
– Ana Faguy
Russia targets Odesa fuel sites in new strikes
Russian forces launched an airstrike Sunday on the Black Sea port of Odesa, in southern Ukraine, sending up clouds of dark smoke that veiled parts of the city. The Russian military said the targets were an oil processing plant and fuel depots around Odesa, which is Ukraine’s largest port and home to its navy.
“I live in that eight-floor building. At 6 in the morning, Russia launched an attack, and this piece of rock reached my house,” said Maiesienko Ilia, who lives near one of the targeted facilities.
The Odesa city council said Ukraine’s air defense shot down some missiles before they hit the city. Ukrainian military spokesman Vladyslav Nazarov said there were no casualties from the attack.
The smaller port of Mariupol, located to the east on the Sea of Azov, remained cut off from the rest of the country as Russian and Ukrainian soldiers fought for control of the besieged city. About 100,000 civilians, less than a quarter of the prewar population of 430,000, are believed to be trapped there with little or no food, water, fuel and medicine.
– Associated Press
Too soon for Zelenskyy, Putin to meet, Russia indicates
Russia’s top negotiator in talks with Ukraine says it’s too early to talk about a meeting between the countries’ leaders.
Vladimir Medinsky, who led the Russian delegation in Tuesday’s talks in Istanbul, said “there is still a lot of work to do” to finalize a draft agreement before Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could meet.
In remarks carried Sunday by the Interfax news agency, Medinsky reaffirmed that the parties reached a tentative agreement on the need for Ukraine to adopt a neutral status and refrain from holding foreign military bases in exchange for international security guarantees.
The Kremlin demands that Ukraine acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and recognize the independence of Russia-backed separatist regions in Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.
– Associated Press
Zelenskyy: Troops shell retreating Russians
Ukraine has regained control over some areas of the Kyiv region as Russian forces pulled back over the last few days. But leaders warn this does not signal that Russia is giving up; rather, forces could be refueling and shifting their strategy to the Donbas region and the south of Ukraine.
In his nightly video address Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said troops were not allowing the Russians to retreat without a fight: “They are shelling them. They are destroying everyone they can.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, said Saturday that the capital was “liberated” from invading Russian forces.
“Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel and the whole Kyiv region were liberated from the invader,” she said in a Facebook post.
Ukraine: Retreating Russians left boobytraps
As Ukrainian forces moved to retake control of areas surrounding Kyiv from retreating Russians, they proceeded with caution to avoid unexploded ordnance and boobytrapped streets and homes, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukraine officials said.
Zelenskyy said Russians were leaving behind a “catastrophic” situation: land mines in streets, civilian homes and even on dead civilian bodies. Ukrainian soldiers were removing bodies from the streets with caution.
Residents of the town of Bucha said civilians were killed without apparent provocation.
US to facilitate transfer of Soviet-era tanks, reports say
The Biden administration intends to work with allies to provide Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine to help its defense in the eastern Donbas region, according to a report from The New York Times.
CNN confirmed the report, citing unnamed officials who said the T-72 tanks would be delivered within “days, not weeks.”
The report, citing an unnamed U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity, says the move was requested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who held an hourlong phone call with President Joe Biden this week.
The U.S. would act as an intermediary, according to the Times. The official said the tanks would allow Ukraine forces to conduct long-range artillery strikes on Russian targets in Donbas, which borders Russia.