Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks before the UN Security Council on Tuesday, after the shock wave caused in the world by the discovery of numerous corpses in the liberated Ukrainian city of Bucha, where Kyiv accuses the Russians of massacre.
Denying any responsibility, Moscow for its part accused the Ukrainian authorities of preparing “stagings” of civilians killed in several cities to condemn Russia.
Mr. Zelensky, who denounced “war crimes” and “genocide” after the update of dozens of corpses wearing civilian clothes in Boutcha and in other localities near the Ukrainian capital, will intervene before the Council of security for the first time since the invasion of his country, indicated the United Kingdom, which currently chairs this United Nations body.
Russia protested for its part against what it presented as London’s refusal to convene the Security Council at its request, for a meeting on the situation in Boutcha, according to the Tass agency.
In a video broadcast overnight from Monday to Tuesday, Mr. Zelensky confirmed that he would intervene by video before the Council, without it being known whether his speech will be live or delayed.
One day, “every Russian will learn the whole truth about [those of his] compatriots [who] killed [or gave] the orders,” he said in this video, calling for tougher sanctions against Moscow and for deliver more armaments to his country.
“Women raped, children killed”
In the theater of military operations, several bombings hit Kramatorsk overnight from Monday to Tuesday, a large city controlled by Kyiv in eastern Ukraine under the threat of an offensive by Russian troops.
According to an AFP journalist, these shots, probably from missiles or long-range rockets, notably destroyed a school in the city center, next to a police building. No official report has been released following these strikes.
In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced the release overnight of one of its teams, detained since Monday by the police in an area controlled by Russian troops near Mariupol, a city besieged since Several weeks.
The team “is now focusing on the continuation of humanitarian evacuation operations,” said the ICRC, for whom this incident “shows the volatility and complexity” of this operation.
Monday, wearing a bulletproof vest, Mr. Zelensky went to Boutcha where dozens of corpses were found in this small town located about thirty kilometers northwest of Kyiv, after the withdrawal of Russian forces.
“You are here and you can see what happened. We know that thousands of people have been killed and tortured, had their limbs torn, women have been raped and children killed,” he said at an improvised press briefing.
Russia has denied any responsibility, assuring Monday that it would present “documents” showing, according to it, the “true nature” of the events that took place in Boutcha.
“Suddenly (these bodies) appear in the streets, lying on the ground, one by one, who to the right, who to the left, some moving, others showing signs of life”, affirmed the Russian ambassador to the Nations united, Vassily Nebenzia, denouncing a staging “arranged by the Ukrainian information war machine”.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry accused the Ukrainian “special services” of having “filmed, on the evening of April 4, a new filmed scene of civilians allegedly killed by violent actions of the army Russian in the village of Moschun, 23 km north-west of Kyiv”.
“Similar events are being organized by [these services] in Sumy (northeast), Konotop (northeast) and other cities,” he added.
Satellite images of the city released Monday by the American company Maxar Technologies, however, appear to refute Russian claims that the bodies of people in civilian clothes found in Boutcha were placed there after Russian troops evacuated the area.
These “high resolution images (…) corroborate recent videos and photos on social networks revealing the presence of bodies lying in the streets (of Boutcha) and abandoned for several weeks”, indicated Maxar Technologies in a press release.
On Saturday, AFP saw in Boutcha the bodies of at least 22 people wearing civilian clothes in the streets of the city. One of them was lying near a bicycle and another had shopping bags next to her. A corpse had its hands tied behind its back.
In the liberated city, a resident told AFP that he saw “before [his] eyes” members of the Russian forces shooting “at a man who was going to get food from the supermarket”.
According to Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedorouk, 280 people had to be buried by Ukrainians in recent days in “mass graves” in Bucha, with the number of corpses piling up.
The grisly findings have sparked outrage from Ukraine’s Western allies who have promised new sanctions “this week” against Russia.
According to a European official, the 27 countries of the EU are discussing sanctions on imports of Russian coal and oil.
“He must be accountable,” US President Joe Biden said on Monday of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, repeating that he considered him a “war criminal”.
Beijing, which has repeatedly refused to condemn Moscow for invading Ukraine, on Tuesday reiterated its call for peace talks to resolve the conflict.
The EU has announced that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell will travel “this week” to Kyiv to meet Mr. Zelensky there.
On Monday, Ms. von der Leyen announced the establishment by the EU of a team “joint with Ukraine to (…) investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity”.
The United States wants to push for Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council this week. Russia reacted by describing this move as “incredible” and judging that it would not facilitate “peace talks” between Russians and Ukrainians.
On Tuesday, Denmark and Italy announced the imminent expulsion of a total of 45 Russian diplomats, following the concerted expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats by several of their European partners.
The EU wants to join forces with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has been investigating allegations of war crimes in Ukraine since March 3.
After the Russian withdrawal around Kyiv, Ukraine is now preparing for a “massive attack” in the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine, its governor, Serguiï Gaïdaï, announced on Monday.