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Zelenskyj addresses the outrage over the deaths of civilians before the United Nations

BUCHA – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy planned to address UN Security Council diplomats on Tuesday, who have been outraged by mounting evidence that Russian forces have been deliberately killing civilians, shooting many of them in courtyards, streets and homes and leaving their bodies open were left.

The withdrawal of Russian troops from towns around the Ukrainian capital brought the bodies to light, prompting calls for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin, particularly for a freeze on fuel imports from Russia. Germany and France responded by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats who pretended to be spies. US President Joe Biden said Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes.

“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous,” Biden said, referring to the city northwest of the capital that was the scene of some scares.

The discovery of the bodies in Bucha should be “the focus” of the Security Council meeting, said Barbara Woodward, the UN ambassador to the UK, which currently holds the Council presidency.

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Associated Press journalists in Bucha counted dozens of bodies in civilian clothes and apparently unarmed, many shot at point blank range and some with their hands tied or flesh burned.

After touring the neighborhoods of Bucha and speaking to hungry survivors queuing for bread, Zelenskyy promised in a video address that Ukraine would work with the European Union and the International Criminal Court to identify Russian militants involved in atrocities .

“The time will come when every Russian will know the whole truth about who among their fellow citizens was killed, who gave orders, who turned a blind eye to the killings,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the scenes outside Kyiv as a “staged anti-Russian provocation”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the images contained “signs of video forgery and various forgeries.”

Russia has similarly dismissed previous allegations of atrocities as fabrications by Ukraine.

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Ukrainian officials said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv that have been retaken by Russian forces in recent days.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office described a room discovered in Bucha as a “torture chamber”. A statement said the bodies of five men with their hands tied were found in the basement of a children’s sanatorium where civilians were being tortured and killed.

The bodies seen by AP journalists in Bucha included at least 13 in and around a building that locals said Russian troops used as a base. Three other bodies were found in a stairwell and a group of six were burned together.

Among the dead, witnessed by the news agency’s journalists, were bodies wrapped in black plastic, piled at one end of a mass grave in a Bucha churchyard. Many of these victims had been shot in cars or killed in explosions trying to flee the city. With the morgue full and the cemetery inaccessible, the only place where the dead are kept was the churchyard, Father Andrii Galavin said.

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Tanya Nedashkivs’ka said she buried her husband in a garden outside their home after he was arrested by Russian troops. His body was one of those left piled in a stairwell.

“Please, I beg you, do something!” she said. “I’m talking here, a Ukrainian, a Ukrainian, mother of two children and one grandchild. For all wives and mothers, make peace on earth that no one mourns again.”

Another Bucha resident, Volodymyr Pilhutskyi, said his neighbor Pavlo Vlasenko was taken away by Russian soldiers because the military-style pants he was wearing and the uniforms, which Vlasenko said belonged to his son, looked suspicious. When Vlasenko’s body was later found, it showed burn marks from a flamethrower, his neighbor said.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, stressed at a press conference on Monday that during the period that Bucha was under Russian control, “not a single local person suffered from violent actions.”

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However, high-resolution satellite imagery from commercial provider Maxar Technologies showed many of the bodies lay outdoors for weeks during the time Russian forces were in Bucha. The New York Times first reported on the satellite images showing the dead.

Western and Ukrainian leaders have previously accused Russia of war crimes, and the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has already opened an investigation. But recent reports have reinforced the sentencing.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the pictures from Bucha reveal the “incredible brutality of the Russian leadership and those who follow their propaganda”. And French President Emmanuel Macron said there was “clear evidence of war crimes” in Bucha that required new punitive measures.

“I am for a new round of sanctions, especially on coal and petrol. We must act,” he said on France-Inter radio.

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Though united in outrage, European allies appeared divided on how to respond. While Poland urged Europe to quickly wean itself off Russian energy, Germany said it would stick to a phased approach of phasing out coal and oil imports over the next few months.

Russia had withdrawn many of its forces from the capital area after its attempt to quickly seize Kyiv was thwarted.

Instead, it has sent troops and mercenaries to the east of the country to seize control of the Donbass, the largely Russian-speaking industrial region that includes the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting and worst suffering of the war.

About two-thirds of Russian troops around Kyiv have left and are either in Belarus or en route, where they are likely to get more supplies and reinforcements, said a senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment .

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More than 1,500 civilians were able to flee Mariupol on Monday using the dwindling number of available private vehicles, said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

But amid the fighting, a Red Cross-escorted convoy of buses that was thwarted for days to deliver supplies and evacuate residents once again failed to get into the city, Vereshchuk said.

Elsewhere, Russian shelling killed 11 people in the southern city of Mykolaiv, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said in a video message on social media.

Zelenskyy called for more weapons as Russia prepares new offensives.

“If we had already got what we need – all these planes, tanks, artillery, anti-missile and anti-ship weapons – we could have saved thousands of people,” he said.

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Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine; Edith Lederer at the United Nations; Lolita Baldor in Washington and Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.ksat.com/news/world/2022/04/05/zelenskyy-to-address-un-amid-outrage-over-civilian-deaths/ Zelenskyj addresses the outrage over the deaths of civilians before the United Nations

Andrew Schnitker

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