Ukraine’s top diplomat has called for tougher sanctions against Russia due to growing evidence of what he called a massacre of civilians in the suburbs of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
Ukrainian officials said earlier on Sunday that dozens of slain civilians were found on the streets of kyiv suburbs in Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel after Russian troops withdrew. They said some of the victims had been shot in the head and had their hands tied.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter on Sunday that the killings were “deliberate”, adding that “the Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as possible”.
He urged the West to impose an embargo on oil, gas and coal and to close all ports to Russian ships and goods. He also demanded that all Russian banks be disconnected from the SWIFT international payment system.
In Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier declared in Berlin that “the war crimes committed by Russia are visible to the eyes of the world”.
German news agency dpa reported that Steinmeier said “the images of Bucha shake me, they shake us deeply”.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledged to toughen sanctions against Russia but did not give details.
In Bucha, just northwest of kyiv, foreign journalists saw Ukrainian soldiers, backed by a column of tanks and other armored vehicles, using cables to drag bodies out of a remote street, in fear that they were not trapped. Residents said the dead – the Associated Press counted at least six – were civilians killed without provocation by departing Russian soldiers.
Journalists reported seeing plainclothes bodies lying in the streets, still unburied, with burnt-out wreckage of Russian tanks and armored vehicles all around.
Ukraine said on Saturday its forces had recaptured all areas around kyiv and now had full control of the capital region for the first time since the invasion began on February 24. Russia withdrew forces that had threatened kyiv from the north to regroup for battles in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Strikes in the port of Odessa
To the south, the Russian military claims to have struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots around the strategic Ukrainian port of Odessa on the Black Sea.
Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russian ships and planes on Sunday fired missiles to hit the facilities, which he said were used to supply fuel to Ukrainian troops near Mykolaiv.
Konashenkov also said Russian strikes destroyed ammunition depots in Kostiantynivka and Khresyshche.
Dmytro Lunin, governor of the Poltava region, said on television that the refinery was destroyed in a rocket attack on Saturday.
“The refinery fire has been put out, but the facility has been completely destroyed and can no longer operate,” he said.
With Mariupol east of Odessa in Russia’s crosshairs, Ukraine insists it has taken a head start elsewhere in the country, leading troops to retake territory to the north of kyiv as the Russian forces departed.
“Ukraine has gained invaluable time, time that allows us to outwit the enemy’s tactics and weaken its capabilities,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.
Residents of Ukraine’s beleaguered southeast coast awaited a possible evacuation on Sunday as Zelensky spoke of Russia’s obsession with capturing Mariupol, another key port city. He said the campaign had weakened Russian military forces and created opportunities for his army.
Conditions still dire in Mariupol
Inside Mariupol, however, surrounded by Russian forces for more than a month and brutalized by some of the worst attacks of the war, conditions remain dire and prospects for escape uncertain.
Around 100,000 people are thought to remain in the Sea of Azov city, less than a quarter of its pre-war population of 430,000, and severe shortages of water, food, fuel and drugs persist.
Many still in Mariupol are waiting for the fulfillment of promises to help them reach safety. Among those trying to get residents out was the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had still not reached the town on Saturday, a day after local authorities said it had been blocked by Russian forces .