EU prepares more sanctions against Russia after apparent atrocities in suburb of Kyiv

The EU is preparing to introduce further sanctions against Moscow after reports of atrocities emerged amid Russia’s troop withdrawal from the Kyiv suburbs.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said further sanctions were “under way” in response to Russia’s actions in Bucha, a city 60 kilometers northwest of Kyiv, which has been blocked Russia occupied until recently.

“Shocked by the haunting images of Russian military atrocities in the liberated Kyiv region,” Michel said on Twitter on Sunday. “Further EU sanctions and support are underway. The EU is assisting Ukraine and NGOs in gathering the necessary evidence for prosecution in international courts.”

EU ambassadors are expected to discuss the new measures on Wednesday, according to a diplomat with knowledge of the plan.

Pledges of more sanctions against Russia after the West strongly condemned Russia’s war crimes allegations against unarmed Ukrainian civilians in the recently liberated areas around Kyiv, when Moscow shifted the focus of the war to the east of the country.

Emine Dzheppar, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, said soldiers who had recaptured Bucha from Russian forces reported “many civilians being shot dead”.

“Some [the] The victim was handcuffed. Innocent victims. They don’t deserve it,” she said.

In the nearby village of Motyzhyn, Russian soldiers also “did terrible things”, she added. “Their cruelty is limitless. Before the Ukrainian army arrived, [the] The Russian army killed as many civilians as possible. Inhuman. Terrible. Withering.”

Ukrainian troops stand next to the body of a man in civilian clothes in Bucha
Ukrainian troops stand next to the body of a man in civilian clothes in Bucha © Vadim Ghirda / AP

The image from Bucha is “unbearable”, French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted, expressing “mercy” for “hundreds of civilians cowardly assassinated”. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the “horrific and macabre” scenes emerging from the town referring to “streets littered with corpses”.

“You can’t help but take these images as a punch to the gut,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, urging the global community not to become “paralysed”. Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, also said she was “appalled by the atrocities in Bucha and other towns”, adding that the UK was collecting evidence of war crimes.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock vowed to “strengthen sanctions against Russia and further support Ukraine’s defense”, while her French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian called for “economic pressure”. strongest possible international” to Moscow.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas asked for a “fifth round of strong EU sanctions” as soon as possible“.

Calls for sanctions against Russia’s energy exports – on which the EU relies heavily – are growing louder. In Italy, one of the EU states most dependent on Russian gas, Enrico Letta, head of the centre-left Democrats and junior partner in prime minister Mario Draghi’s national unity government, has called called “total oil and gas embargo on Russia”.

Buying Russian oil and gas is “funding war crimes,” said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. The Baltic state claims to be the first country in the EU to stop importing gas from Moscow. “Dear EU friends, unplug. Don’t be an accomplice,” he added.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, posted an image on Twitter showing multiple corpses on the streets of Bucha. Some of the victims appeared to have their hands tied behind their backs.

“The bodies of people with their hands tied, who were shot dead by [Russian] soldiers lying on the street,” said Mr. Podolyak. “These people are not in the military. They have no weapons. They are not threatening. How many more such cases are happening right now in the occupied territories? “

Map showing territory with Russian military presence and territory recaptured by the Ukrainians from Russia around Kyiv

Human Rights Watch on Sunday said it had documented several instances of illegal violence it described as “clear war crimes”, including in the Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv regions.

The New York-based group said the cases it documented, including summary executions and rape, indicate “unspeakable, intentional cruelty and violence against civilians.” Ukraine” should be investigated as War Crimes.

The group said that in the village of Staryi Bykiv in the Chernihiv region, Russian forces rounded up six men on February 27 and executed them.

Gyunduz Mamedov, a former deputy prosecutor general of Ukraine and expert on international criminal law who visited Irpin and Bucha, said that in addition to extensive infrastructure destruction, he also saw the bodies of civilians and freshly dug graves bearing the sign of the cross.

He said that about 50% of buildings in Irpin were damaged and about 300 civilians were killed in the Russian attack.

Artis Pabriks, Latvia’s defense minister, said: “After witnessing Russia’s atrocities against civilians, if some people in the free west still don’t understand that we have to do everything. to make the Russians lose and leave. [the] full [of] Ukraine, then I’m sorry for the west.”

Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg said such a “brutal against civilians” had not been witnessed in Europe in decades, adding it was “hugely important” the Criminal Court International has opened an investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine.

Carla Del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal, on Saturday called for an international arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, calling the Russian President a “war criminal”.

Meanwhile, Russian negotiators handling peace talks between the two countries said there would be fresh discussions on Monday. Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation, said Russia accepts Ukraine’s position except that it insists that Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, should be returned to Kyiv.

Additional reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya in Riga, Richard Milne in Oslo, Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe in London and Lauren Fedor in Washington

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