Ukraine war: EU to study more Russia sanctions urgently as atrocities bring ‘genocide’ claims

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Ukraine war: EU to study more Russia sanctions urgently as atrocities bring 'genocide' claims

A mass grave is seen behind a church in the town of Bucha, northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 3, 2022.   —  

There’ve been calls for an international probe into alleged Russian atrocities against civilians as Vladimir Putin’s forces retreated from the Kyiv region.

Moscow is concentrating its offensive on eastern and southern Ukraine. Thousands have died since Russia invaded the country on February 24, causing widespread devastation. Millions have fled their homes, creating Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The war has deepened the rupture between Russia and the West, where there are calls for more sanctions against Moscow.

Watch our TV coverage in the video player above, and follow the latest updates in our live blog below:


Monday’s key points:

    EU and UK leaders are among those evoking further sanctions against Moscow in the wake of mounting evidence of Russian atrocities against civilians amid the withdrawal from the outskirts of Kyiv.The Polish and Spanish prime ministers, speaking separately, have echoed the Ukrainian president’s allegations of «genocide», urging an international investigation. France’s President Macron says there’s clear evidence of Russian war crimes.Volodymyr Zelenskyy says a special justice unit will be set up to investigate Russian crimes in Ukraine.Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian troops.Zelenskyy appeared in a video at the Grammy Awards asking for support in telling the story of Ukraine’s invasion by Russia. In another video he slammed former German and French leaders Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy for their «policy of concessions to Russia».Germany’s defence minister says European officials should talk about halting gas supplies from Russia. Lithuania said on Sunday it is the first EU nation to cut itself off entirely from gas imports from Russia.Hungary’s newly re-elected leader Viktor Orban, who has refused arms shipments to Ukraine across Hungarian territory, listed Brussels and Zelenskyy among his enemies in a victory speech.The Ukrainian military says its forces have retaken some towns in the Chernihiv region and that humanitarian aid is being delivered.Russia has described the images from Bucha as a Ukrainian «hoax», and has asked for a special meeting of the UN Security Council.


Russian oligarch’s yacht searched in Mallorca

U.S. federal agents and Spain’s Civil Guard searched a yacht owned by a Russian oligarch on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca on Monday.

The law enforcement officers boarded the yacht at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Associated Press reporters at the scene saw police going in and out of the boat on Monday morning.

A Civil Guard source told The Associated Press that the yacht named Tango is a 78-metre vessel that carries Cook Islands flag and that, a specialized website that tracks the world’s largest and most exclusive recreational boats, values it at $120 million (€109 million). The source was not authorized to be named in media reports and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The yacht is among the assets linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close ally with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, tech and other assets, according to U.S. Treasury Department documents. All of Vekselberg’s assets in the U.S. are frozen and U.S. companies are forbidden from doing business with him and his entities.

The Ukrainian-born businessman built his fortune by investing in the aluminum and oil industries in the post-Soviet era.



Borrell cites ‘haunting images’ and vows more ‘urgent’ sanctions

The European Union’s top diplomat has joined a growing chorus of international criticism blaming the Russian armed forces for alleged atrocities committed against civilians in Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says “the Russian authorities are responsible for these atrocities, committed while they had effective control of the area. They are subject to the international law of occupation.”

Borrell said Monday that the “haunting images of large numbers of civilian deaths and casualties, as well as destruction of civilian infrastructures show the true face of the brutal war of aggression Russia is waging against Ukraine and its people.”

Working with the US, UK and other international partners, the EU has been ramping up sanctions against Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February. Borrell says the 27-country bloc “will advance, as a matter of urgency, work on further sanctions against Russia.”



Canada, Japan, Israel, New Zealand condemn Bucha atrocities

Among the worldwide condemnation of the alleged murder of civilians by Russian troops in Bucha, near Kyiv, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: «Those responsible for these egregious and appalling attacks will be brought to justice.»

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that “we strongly condemn attacks on civilians” following reports of bodies found with signs of torture in areas abandoned by Russian forces. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno called for firm investigations by the International Criminal Court over Moscow’s “war crimes”.

Israel’s foreign minister has condemned the reported atrocities in Ukraine, saying deliberate harm to civilians is a war crime. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter that one “cannot remain indifferent” after seeing images from the town of Bucha near Ukraine capital.

Israel has walked a tightrope since Russia invaded Ukraine, simultaneously denouncing the invasion while avoiding taking too strident a stance out of concern of angering Moscow, with whom it has security coordination in neighbouring Syria.

Israel has good relations with both countries and has mediated between them since the invasion on February 24.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called reports of rape and other atrocities by Russian soldiers “beyond reprehensible.” 

“Russia must answer to the world for what they’ve done,” she said, adding that her Cabinet considered on Monday further measures New Zealand could take to support Ukraine and send a strong message to Moscow.

(with AP, AFP)


Polish PM calls for international inquiry into possible ‘genocide’

The Polish Prime Minister called on Monday to create an international commission of inquiry into what he called «genocide» committed by the Russian army in Ukrainian cities, including Bucha.

«These bloody massacres committed by Russians, Russian soldiers, deserve to be called by their name. It is genocide, and it must be judged,» Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters. «This is why we are proposing to set up an international commission to investigate this crime of genocide.»

His words were echoed by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who also spoke on Monday of a possible «genocide» in Ukraine after the massacre of civilians uncovered in Bucha, following the withdrawal of Russian troops from near Kyiv.

«We will do everything possible to ensure that those who perpetrated these war crimes do not go unpunished and can appear before the courts, in this specific case before the International Criminal Court, to answer for these alleged cases of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and, why not say it also, genocide,” Sanchez told an economic forum.



Macron in favour of new EU sanctions against Russia

Emmanuel Macron declared himself on Monday «in favour» of the European Union deciding on new sanctions against Russia, citing oil and coal. It follows the discovery of hundreds of civilian bodies in the Kyiv region, particularly in Bucha.

His appeal echoes that of Germany, whose defence minister said on Sunday that European officials should talk about halting gas supplies from Russia.

«What happened in Bucha requires a new set of sanctions and very clear measures,» the French president told France Inter radio. «So we will coordinate with our European partners, especially Germany» in «the coming days», he added, referring to individual sanctions and measures on «coal and oil».

«We must send the signal that it is our collective dignity and our values ​​that we are defending,» he said, citing events in Mariupol in particular.

Macron described the images from Bucha as «unbearable», adding that «there are very clear indications today of war crimes» for which Russian forces were responsible.

«International justice must pass. Those who were at the origin of these crimes will have to answer for it,» he said, because «there will be no peace without justice».


‘He put his hands up, they shot him’: Bucha locals allege Russian atrocities

Associated Press journalists saw over 20 bodies dressed in civilian clothes in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, close to a site residents said Russian troops had used as a base. Some of the dead had their hands or feet tied up.

Locals said the Russians had shot people in cold blood.

Read the full story here:

Ukraine war: EU to study more Russia sanctions urgently as atrocities bring 'genocide' claims

‘He put his hands up, they shot him’: Bucha residents accuse Russians

Ukrainian authorities accused Putin’s forces of committing war crimes and leaving behind a “scene from a horror movie” as they withdrew from the town near Kyiv.


Orban includes Zelenskyy on his list of foes

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban celebrated his landslide re-election win on Sunday with a familiar tirade vilifying those he sees as his adversaries.

In his victory speech, he included Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy on the list in describing the «overwhelming force» he said his party had struggled against in the election: “The left at home, the international left all around, the Brussels bureaucrats, the Soros empire with all its money, the international mainstream media, and in the end, even the Ukrainian president.”

On Saturday Zelenskyy depicted the Hungarian leader as out of touch with the rest of Europe, which has united to condemn Putin, support sanctions against Russia and send aid including weapons to Ukraine.

“He is virtually the only one in Europe to openly support Mr Putin,” Zelenskyy said.

Orban, a longtime ally of Vladimir Putin, has insisted that Hungary remain neutral and maintain its close economic ties with Moscow, including continuing to import Russian gas and oil on favourable terms.

Alone among Ukraine’s EU neighbours, Orban has refused to supply Ukraine with weapons, saying this would make Hungary a military target.

“This isn’t our war, we have to stay out of it,” Orban said at a rally on Friday.

(with AP)


Ukraine to set up ‘special mechanism’ to investigate Russian crimes — Zelenskyy

More from the Ukrainian president’s video address on Sunday evening. 

«I approved a decision to create a special mechanism of justice in Ukraine for the investigation and judicial examination of every crime of the occupiers on the territory of our state,» Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

The essence of this mechanism is the joint work of national and international experts: investigators, prosecutors and judges. This mechanism will help Ukraine and the world bring to concrete justice those who unleashed or in any way participated in this terrible war against the Ukrainian people and in crimes against our people.

«It is time to do everything possible to make the war crimes of the Russian military the last manifestation of such evil on earth.»

The full text of Zelenskyy’s address translated into English is available on the presidential website.


Ukraine reports more territorial gains — and civilian casualties

Ukrainian authorities are reporting more civilian casualties from the Russian barrage.

At least seven people were killed and 34, including three children, were wounded in a Russian rocket attack on Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv late Sunday, according to the regional prosecutor’s office. It said that 10 buildings were destroyed.

In the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv, regional Gov. Vitaliy Kim said at least one resident was killed and 14 others were wounded by Russian shelling late Sunday. Local authorities also reported more Russian strikes on Mykolaiv early Monday, but there was no immediate word of casualties.

The Ukrainian military says that its forces have retaken some towns in the Chernihiv region and that humanitarian aid is being delivered.

The news agency RBK Ukraina says the road between Chernihiv and the capital of Kyiv is to reopen to some traffic later Monday.

Chernihiv is a city 130 kilometres north of Kyiv and it had been cut off from shipments of food and other supplies for weeks. The mayor said Sunday that relentless Russian shelling had destroyed 70% of the city.

Russian forces also withdrew from the Sumy region, in Ukraine’s northeast, local administrator Dmitry Zhivitsky said in a video message carried by Ukrainian news agencies Sunday. The troops had occupied the area for nearly a month.

(with AP)

For a summary of Sunday’s developments, click here.


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