Ukraine breakfast briefing: Bucha ‘mass killings’ could be tip of iceberg, suggests Zelensky

The ‘mass killing’ of civilians in the city of Bucha could be the tip of the iceberg, Ukraine’s president Volodomyr Zelensky has suggested.

The international media has reported seeing bodies scattered across the streets of the city, on the outskirts of Kyiv, after Russian troops withdrew from the area. Photos show some dead bodies with bound hands, and close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture are also being reported.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov has claimed it is a “fake attack” and that the dead bodies were “staged”. However, in a speech released in the early hours of this morning, Mr Zelensky said: “There is ample evidence that it is Russian troops who destroy peaceful cities, abduct, torture, kill civilians.”

And Mr Zelensky claimed that “information” suggests the “mass killings” could be even worse in some other “liberated” cities, such as in Borodyanka. “At present, there is information about more than three hundred people killed and tortured in Bucha alone,” said Zelensky. “It is likely that the list of victims will be much larger when the whole city is checked. And this is only one city.

“There is already information that the number of victims of the occupiers may be even higher in Borodyanka and some other liberated cities.

“In many villages of the liberated districts of the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions, the occupiers did things that the locals had not seen even during the Nazi occupation 80 years ago. The occupiers will definitely bear responsibility for this.”

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Russian chess grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist and commentator Garry Kasparov also suggested the world is yet to witness the worst of what has happened in Ukraine. On Twitter, Mr Kasparov said: “Bucha was after just days of Russian occupation. Mariupol has been pulverized and will be worse.

“Areas in Donbas under months or years of Putin’s terror, they will try to cover up their crimes. No more half-measures. Ukraine must be 100% free and whole.”

Mr Zelensky also accused Russia of attempting to cover up evidence of “war crimes” and of mounting a “propaganda” operation to cast doubt over reports that Ukrainian civilians have been murdered by Russian forces. He vowed that “every Russian will learn the whole truth about who of their fellow citizens killed, who gave orders, who turned a blind eye to the murders.” “We will establish all of this – and make it known to the world,” added Mr Zelensky.

Journalists stand by a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022.

Russia ‘willing to sacrifice millions of lives’, claims President Zelensky

Russia is “willing to sacrifice millions of lives”, President Volodomyr Zelensky has claimed. In an impassioned video address to the Romanian Parliament – in which he recalled the horrors of the Ceaușescu regime – Mr Zelensky said that “Romanian people revolted and defended themselves”, like Ukrainians were now doing against Russia.

He said that “those who promote war in Russia now” have “lost all connection with reality and are willing to sacrifice millions of lives to realize their crazy ideas”.

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1,550 civilians evacuated from Mariupol

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says more than 1,550 civilians were evacuated on Monday from the besieged port of Mariupol in south-eastern Ukraine. Ms Vereshchuk said a total of 2,405 people were evacuated along a humanitarian corridor route running from Mariupol to the Ukraine-held city of Zaporizhzhia, with 1,553 of those coming from Mariupol itself and the rest from other locations in the heavily contested area.

She said the people used the dwindling number of private vehicles left in the area to get out of Mariupol and that a convoy of seven buses sent to help remained unable to enter the city to collect people. Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov, is a key Russian military objective that has faced horrific bombardment.

Local residents walk through the destroyed residential area on April 4, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine.  The Ukrainian government has accused Russian forces of committing a
Local residents walk through the destroyed residential area on April 4, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has accused Russian forces of committing a “deliberate massacre” as they occupied and eventually retreated from Bucha, 25km northwest of Kyiv

Germany to expel 40 Russian diplomats

Germany is expelling 40 Russian diplomats in response to the killings in Bucha and says further measures with partners are being prepared.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the images received from the Ukrainian town following the withdrawal of Russian troops “shows an attempt to destroy that goes beyond all boundaries”.

Ms Baerbock said the Bucha images also reveal the “unbelievable brutality of the Russian leadership and those who follow its propaganda”.

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The German diplomat said “we must fear similar images from many other places occupied by Russian troops in Ukraine” and that “we must counter this inhumanity with the strength of our freedom and our humanity”.

She added “it must also be clear that we must stand up for our freedom and be prepared to defend it”.

She said the Russian diplomats expelled “have worked here in Germany every day against our freedom, against the cohesion of our society” and that their work is “a threat to those who seek protection with us”.

Ms Baerbock said she told the Russian ambassador “we will not tolerate this any longer”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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