West under pressure to act after reports of civilian executions in Russian-held Ukrainian towns – POLITICO

The West is facing mounting pressure to bolster its support for Ukraine amid reports of massacres and rapes of civilians in towns recaptured from Russian troops.

As Russia focused its offensive on the east and south of the country, Ukrainian forces recapturing villages and towns around kyiv claimed many apparent human rights atrocities. Among their discoveries were dead women left naked in the street and, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, violated.

“Russian soldiers have done terrible things here”, noted Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova as she shared an image of victims in the village of Motyzhyn found face down with their hands tied and shot in the back of the neck. In the town of Bucha, the Russians killed civilians during their occupation as well as during their retreat, Dzhaparova added in a statement.

The NGO Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 Ukrainian citizens who witnessed atrocities, including summary executions in Bucha, about 30 kilometers northwest of kyiv, and in the village of Staryi Bykiv, in the Chernihiv region . The advocacy group provided a detailed account of its talks.

“The cases we have documented represent unspeakable and deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at HRW. “Rapes, murders and other acts of violence against those detained by Russian forces must be investigated as war crimes,” he said.

Describing a series of other cases, Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukrainian commissioner for human rights, called on the international community to investigate, through the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). .

Appearing on Sky News on Sunday, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the reports were “horrible” and “heartbreaking”. He said it was “absolutely right that all of this be properly documented”, to enable those responsible to be brought to international justice.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted that photos “recall the massacres committed by the Soviet and Nazi regimes”. “This is not a battlefield, this is a crime scene,” she added. “Evidence must be collected, preserved for trial, and perpetrators must face justice.”

Reports of this nature are increasing as Ukrainians return to the villages and towns surrounding the capital. President Volodymyr Zelensky has meanwhile warned against Russian offensives in the east and south of the country. These included a new overnight shelling of the ancient and strategic port city of Odessa in the southwest, according to AFP. Moscow announced on Tuesday that it would shift its focus from kyiv to the eastern region of Donbass.

In a call for the West to do more to help the country, Zelenskyy said in a speech on Sunday: “Unfortunately, Ukraine has not yet received enough modern Western anti-missile systems or aircraft. Didn’t get what partners could provide Could – and still can.

European leaders have approved four rounds of sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, but remain divided over imposing an energy embargo on Moscow and have rejected kyiv’s calls for a no-fly zone .

“Every Russian missile and every bomb dropped only adds black paint to the story that will describe everyone on whom the decision depended. [The decision of] whether to help Ukraine with modern weapons,” Zelenskyy added.

As Hungarians head to the polls on Sunday, Ukraine’s president denounced Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for being “practically the only one in Europe to openly support Mr Putin”. Unlike the rest of Europe, in Hungary “we saw no effort to stop the war. Why so?” He asked.

In contrast, he said he had a “meaningful” conversation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during which the pair agreed on a new “very, very tangible” package of support, including tougher sanctions against Russia. “Thank you, Boris for the leadership. Historical leadership. I’m sure and certain.”

Visiting Kyiv on Friday, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola pledged to step up aid to Ukraine and discussed “more extensive” sanctions against Russia. “We have already provided financial, military and humanitarian assistance – this will continue and increase,” she said.

Annabelle Dickson and Stuart Lau contributed reporting.


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