Ukraine war: Satellite photos appear to contradict Russian denials over Bucha atrocities

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Ukraine war: Satellite photos appear to contradict Russian denials over Bucha atrocities

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on April 4, 2022 shows a view of Yablonska Street in Bucha, Ukraine, on March 31, 2022.   —  

Russia’s war in Ukraine is taking on a new dimension with growing evidence of human rights atrocities by Vladimir Putin’s troops, accused of killing civilians in cold blood as they retreated from the Kyiv region.

Moves are afoot to investigate war crimes but there are fears that similar massacres could occur, given Russia’s failure to gain control of the country or even any key cities following its invasion on February 24.

Moscow is now concentrating its offensive on eastern and southern Ukraine. Thousands have been killed so far and Russian bombardments have caused 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, which is considering more economic sanctions against Moscow.

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


Tuesday’s key points:

    Satellite photographs released on Monday appear to rebut Russian assertions that dead bodies in civilian clothing found in Bucha had appeared there after Russian forces retreated from the devastated Ukrainian town. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who visited Bucha on Monday, will speak to the UN Security Council for the first time on Tuesday at a meeting certain to focus on what appear to be deliberate killings of civilians in Ukraine by Russian troops.Moscow has claimed the scenes were faked and says it will present evidence to the UN Security Council.Zelenskyy’s spokesperson told Euronews there are fears that similar massacres could occur elsewhere as Russian troops retreat towards Belarus. Ukrainian prosecutor-general has said a “similar humanitarian situation” to Bucha exists in other areas where Russian forces recently left, such as around the northern cities of Sumy and Chernihiv.EU and UK leaders have promised further sanctions against Moscow in the wake of mounting evidence of Russian atrocities against civilians amid the withdrawal from the outskirts of Kyiv.US President Joe Biden has called for a «war crimes trial» in light of the allegations.Ukraine’s latest daily military report suggests Russian forces are preparing for a major attack in eastern Ukraine.Germany, France and Lithuania all took action on Monday to expel Russian diplomats.Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says more than 1,550 civilians were evacuated on Monday from the besieged port of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine.


Satellite photos undermine Russian denials of atrocities

Satellite images released by Maxar Technologies on April 4, 2022 show views of streets in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv in Ukraine.

The photos taken on March 31 seem to show bodies lying in the streets, before Russian forces retreated from the devastated Ukrainian town.

They give the lie to Russian assertions that dead bodies in civilian clothing found in Bucha had appeared there afterwards.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the images contained “signs of video forgery and various fakes”. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the scenes outside Kyiv as a “stage-managed anti-Russian provocation,” prompting one Ukrainian MP to accuse him of lying.

Pro-Kremlin media have claimed that Russian troops left days before the bodies were documented. But on April 1 Zvezda TV reported that Russian marines were still carrying out operations in areas including Bucha. On the same day, a Kyiv regional authority report listed the town as among the most dangerous areas due to the presence of Russian forces. A Ukrainian military report on March 31 said Bucha was still under Russian control.

Independent journalists have seen, filmed and photographed the bodies found in Bucha and elsewhere, some in areas occupied by Russian forces only hours before.

On Monday Associated Press journalists in Bucha counted dozens of corpses in civilian clothes and apparently without weapons, many shot at close range, and some with their hands bound or their flesh burned.

(with AFP, AP)

Ukraine war: Satellite photos appear to contradict Russian denials over Bucha atrocities

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on April 4, 2022 shows a view of Yablonska Street in Bucha, Ukraine, on March 31, 2022.

Ukraine war: Satellite photos appear to contradict Russian denials over Bucha atrocities

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on April 4, 2022 shows destroyed homes and vehicles on Vokzalna Street in Bucha, Ukraine, on March 31, 2022.10:10

ICRC team freed after being held near Mariupol

The International Committee of the Red Cross team «was released overnight» after being detained by police on Monday in an area controlled by Russian troops near Mariupol, an ICRC spokesman said on Tuesday.

The team, which had been arrested in Mangush 20 kilometres west of Mariupol, «is now focused on continuing humanitarian evacuation operations», the spokesman said, adding that this incident «shows the volatility and the complexity» of this operation.

This team has been trying since Friday to reach Mariupol, the large port city besieged and bombarded for weeks by the Russian army, to facilitate the evacuation of civilians.

Russia and Ukraine have for several days been rejecting responsibility for the difficulties encountered in the evacuations from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, more than 200 km to the west.

Mariupol is «90%» destroyed and «40% of its infrastructure» is «unrecoverable», its mayor Vadim Boichenko announced on Monday.

According to him, «about 130,000 inhabitants» are still stuck in the city, which before the war had nearly half a million people.



Re-deployed Russian forces ‘likely to need significant re-supplying’

The latest daily bulletin on the war from UK military intelligence says Ukrainian forces have «retaken key territory» in northern Ukraine. Low-level fighting is likely in newly-captured areas but this is expected to diminish, it says.

Many Russian units withdrawing from the north are likely to need significant re-equipping and refurbishment before being operational in the east, the bulletin adds.


Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine hit by Russian bombardments 

Several bombings overnight hit this large eastern city which is controlled by Kyiv but is under the threat of an offensive by Russian troops.

An AFP journalist reported that the attack, probably using missiles or long-range rockets, destroyed a school in the city centre, close to a police station, around 3 am local time.

In the early morning, a smoking crater about ten metres in diameter was visible in the schoolyard, which was partly collapsed. Many windows were blown out but residents reported no casualties as the school was apparently empty.

There’s been no official report into the attack.

Since Russia withdrew its troops from the regions of Kyiv and central northern areas of the country and announced that it wanted to «concentrate its efforts on the liberation of Donbas», this historic mining basin has been living in fear of a major Russian offensive. 

The Ukrainian government has said it expects the situation in this region to worsen as Russian forces try to outflank the Ukrainian army, which has been deployed since 2014 on a front line bordering Donetsk in the south and Luhansk in the east — both self-proclaimed capitals of two pro-Russian separatist «republics» — and which now extends to Izium, recently conquered in the northwest.

Kramatorsk, in effect the capital of Ukrainian-controlled territory in this part of the country since 2014, is right in the centre of this strategically crucial area and would then find itself surrounded.

Hundreds of displaced Ukrainians were on Monday continuing attempts to flee to the west from the east of the country, packing onto crowded trains and waiting in traffic on gridlocked highways. Military checkpoints are said to be overwhelmed.

According to the Ukrainian rail company, 3,100 people were evacuated on Monday but the trains were interrupted Tuesday morning due to the overnight shelling, as the railways have to be inspected. 

(Euronews with AP, AFP)


Russia planning eastern offensive — Ukrainian military

Russian forces on Tuesday were preparing for an offensive in Ukraine’s east, the Ukrainian military said in its latest assessment.

Vladimir Putin’s government is pouring soldiers into Ukraine’s east to gain control of the industrial heartland known as the Donbas. That follows a Russian withdrawal from towns around the capital, Kyiv, which led to the discovery of corpses, prompting accusations of war crimes and demands for tougher sanctions on Moscow.

Russian forces are focused on seizing the cities of Popasna and Rubizhne in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the Black Sea port of Mariupol, Ukraine’s General Staff said on its Facebook page. Donetsk and Luhansk are controlled by Russian-backed separatists and recognized by Moscow as independent states. The General Staff said access to Kharkiv in the east, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was blocked.

“The enemy is regrouping troops and concentrating its efforts on preparing an offensive operation in the east of our country,» the statement said. “The goal is to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.»

(with AP)


‘We failed’ on Russia policy, admits Germany’s president

Germany’s president is admitting mistakes in policy toward Russia in his previous job as foreign minister.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier served twice as ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister, most recently from 2013 to 2017, and before that as ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s chief of staff. In that time, Germany pursued dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and cultivated close energy ties.

Steinmeier told ZDF television Tuesday that “we failed on many points,” including efforts to encourage Russia toward democracy and respecting human rights.

The president conceded that “there were different assessments” of Russia among European countries. He added: “It is true that we should have taken the warnings of our eastern European partners more seriously, particularly regarding the time after 2014” and the building of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Sticking to that project was a mistake that cost Germany “a lot of credit and credibility” in eastern Europe, he said. Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended the pipeline  in the week Russia invaded Ukraine.

However, former Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her refusal in 2008 to initiate the process of admitting Ukraine to NATO in response to criticism from current President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Merkel, who left politics at the end of 2021, said in a short statement published by her spokesperson that she «assumes her decisions from the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest».

In a video statement on Sunday night, the Ukrainian president singled out Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy over NATO’s «refusal» to accept Ukraine into the military alliance.

He said he invited both of them to visit Bucha and «see what the policy of concessions to Russia has led to in 14 years».

(Euronews with AP, AFP)


What does Russia say about the Bucha atrocities?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday described the evidence of civilian bodies discovered in the town as a “stage-managed anti-Russian provocation”.

He charged that the mayor of Bucha made no mention of atrocities against civilians a day after Russian troops left Bucha, but two days later scores of bodies were photographed scattered in the streets.

But satellite photos appear to show that the bodies were visible before the Russian departure. Moscow claims they left on March 30 but there is evidence to show there was still a Russian presence as late as April 1 (see separate post).

On Monday Ukrainian lawmaker Lesia Vasylenko accused Lavrov of lying.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the images contained “signs of video forgery and various fakes”, without producing any evidence.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, accused Ukraine and the West on Monday of “a false flag attempt” to blame Russian troops for atrocities in Bucha that he charged were committed by Ukrainian nationalists. He called video of bodies lying in the streets “a crude forgery,” and insisted that during the time that Bucha was under Russian control, “not a single local person has suffered from any violent action”.

At a news conference, the Russian ambassador showed brief video footage of the smiling mayor of Bucha on March 31 calling the withdrawal of Russian forces a victory of the Ukrainian army and never mentioning “any mass atrocities, dead bodies, killings, graves or anything like that.” He also showed footage from Ukrainian television on April 2 showing Ukrainian soldiers entering Bucha, with “no dead bodies in the streets.”

He said Russia would present further «factual evidence” to the Security Council on Tuesday.

Russia has a long history of outright denial in the face of accusations of improper conduct, whatever the evidence.

(Euronews with AP)



Zelenskyy addresses Romanian parliament

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Romania’s parliament Monday evening in a video call in which the leader said had Ukraine not defended itself, Russia would have carried out atrocities like that of Bucha “all over Ukraine.”

Zelenskyy, who visited the town of Bucha on Monday to see the alleged crimes of Russia’s forces against Ukrainian civilians, shared grim video footage during his address that showed areas strewn with dead bodies. The Bucha killings — which Zelenskyy labeled a “genocide” — have become the center of worldwide outrage against Russia.

“The military tortured people and we have every reason to believe that there are many more people killed,” Zelenskyy said. “Much more than we know now.”

The Ukrainian leader also called for tougher sanctions, saying “Russia must be deprived of all resources, primarily economic” and said that the fate of the region will be decided by the outcome of the war in Ukraine.

Before the Ukrainian leader’s address, the president of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, Marcel Ciolacu, said the last few days “have shown us horrible images that have overwhelmed and revolted us all.”

“I support a speedy investigation by the International Criminal Court,” Ciolacu said.


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


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