Zelenskyy at the UN accuses Russian military of war crimes

Zelenskyy stressed that Bucha was only one place and that there are more with similar horrors - a warning echoed by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Bucha (Ukraine): Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Russians of gruesome atrocities in Ukraine and told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that those responsible should immediately be brought up on war crimes charges in front of a tribunal like the one established at Nuremberg after World War II.

Zelenskyy, appearing via video from Ukraine, said that civilians had been tortured, shot in the back of the head, thrown down wells, blown up with grenades in their apartments and crushed to death by tanks while in cars.

They cut off limbs, cut their throats. Women were raped and killed in front of their children. Their tongues were pulled out only because their aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them, he said, recounting what he described as the worst atrocities since World War II.

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Over the past few days, grisly images of what appeared to be civilian massacres carried out by Russian forces in Bucha before they withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv have caused a global outcry and led Western nations to expel scores of Moscow’s diplomats and propose further sanctions, including a ban on coal imports from Russia.

Zelenskyy said that both those who carried out the killings and those who gave the orders must be brought to justice immediately for war crimes in front of a tribunal similar to what was used in postwar Germany.

Moscow’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said that while Bucha was under Russian control, not a single local person has suffered from any violent action.

Reiterating what the Kremlin has contended for days, he said that video footage of bodies in the streets was a crude forgery staged by the Ukrainians.

You only saw what they showed you, he said. The only ones who would fall for this are Western dilettantes.

Associated Press journalists in Bucha have counted dozens of corpses in civilian clothes and interviewed Ukrainians who told of witnessing atrocities. Also, high-resolution satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed that many of the bodies had been lying in the open for weeks, during the time that Russian forces were in the town.

The dead in Bucha included a pile of six charred bodies, as witnessed by AP journalists. It was not clear who they were or under what circumstances they died. One body was probably that of a child, said Andrii Nebytov, head of police in the Kyiv region. One person had a gunshot wound to the head.

The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court at The Hague opened an investigation a month ago into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy stressed that Bucha was only one place and that there are more with similar horrors – a warning echoed by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

When and if they withdraw their troops and Ukrainian troops take over, I’m afraid they will see more mass graves, more atrocities and more examples of war crimes, he said.

Stoltenberg, meanwhile, warned that in pulling back from the capital, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military is regrouping its forces in order to deploy them to eastern and southern Ukraine for a crucial phase of the war.” Russia’s stated goal is control of the Donbas, the largely Russian-speaking industrial region in the east that includes the shattered port city of Mariupol.

Moscow is not giving up its ambitions in Ukraine, Stoltenberg said.

While both Ukrainian and Russian representatives sent optimistic signals following their latest round of talks a week ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow won’t accept a Ukrainian demand that a prospective peace deal include an immediate pullout of troops followed by a Ukrainian referendum on the agreement.

In televised remarks Tuesday, Lavrov said a new deal would have to be negotiated if the vote failed, and we don’t want to play such cat and mouse.

Ukrainian officials said that the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv that were recaptured from Russian forces and that a torture chamber was discovered in Bucha.

Zelenskyy told the Security Council there was not a single crime that Russian troops hadn’t committed in Bucha, and he likened their actions to those of the Islamic State group.

The Russian military searched for and purposefully killed anyone who served our country. They shot and killed women outside their houses when they just tried to call someone who is alive. They killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies, he said. They used tanks to crush civilians just for their pleasure, he said.

On Tuesday, police and other investigators walked the silent streets of Bucha, taking notes on bodies that residents showed them. Survivors who hid in their homes during the monthlong Russian occupation of the town, many of them past middle age, wandered past charred tanks and jagged window panes with plastic bags of food and other humanitarian aid. Red Cross workers checked in on intact homes.

Many of the dead seen by AP journalists appeared to have been shot at close range, and some had their hands bound or their flesh burned.

The AP and the PBS series Frontline have jointly verified at least 90 incidents during the war that appear to violate international law. The War Crimes Watch Ukraine project is looking into apparent targeted attacks as well as indiscriminate ones.

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