Those responsible for these ‘heinous crimes’ must not go unpunished, says European Commission chief
The EU will send a team of investigators to Ukraine to investigate alleged war crimes on the ground, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday after speaking to the country’s president by phone. , Volodymyr Zelensky. The move comes after several dead civilians were found in Bucha, a suburb of the capital, over the weekend, with kyiv quick to attribute the killings to Russian troops.
“This afternoon I spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the appalling murders that have been uncovered in Bucha and other areas from which Russian troops have recently departed,” he added. von der Leyen said in a statement.
The investigation team sent by the EU will not act as an independent entity but will help Ukrainian authorities collect evidence on the spot, the official said.
“The EU has set up a joint investigation team with Ukraine to collect evidence and investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity”, von der Leyen explained. “The EU is ready to reinforce this effort by sending investigative teams on the ground to support the Ukrainian prosecution services. Eurojust and Europol are ready to help.”
The Bucha case unfolded after the discovery of several dead civilians in the suburban town northwest of the capital. kyiv immediately blamed Russian troops for the alleged massacre, with senior Western officials backing his assessment and also accusing Moscow of war crimes. The latter, however, vehemently denied any involvement in the murders, calling the whole Bucha affair a deliberate set-up. “provocation” to supervise the Russian troops.
Zelensky visited the site of the alleged massacre earlier in the day, vowing to punish those responsible and reiterating kyiv’s allegations against Moscow.
“We want you to show the world what happened here. What the Russian army did. What the Russian Federation did in the peace of Ukraine. It was important for you to see that they were civilians. Zelensky told a large group of foreign journalists who accompanied him to the site.
Moscow launched a full-scale offensive against Ukraine in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbas republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to regularize the status of these regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia’s demand is that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military alliance. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two rebel regions by force.
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