The Russian Ministry of Defense has claimed that all photographs and video materials published by the authorities in Kyiv, giving evidence of the atrocities committed by the Russian forces in the town of Bucha, are false and a “provocation” on the part of Ukraine. In the statement, Russian military officials cynically noted that in the photos, the bodies did not suffer from rigor mortis and showed no cadaveric stains.
Official Russian state media have parroted the same lies, spreading disinformation to the Russian population.
Such cynical statements and attempts to absolve Russia of responsibility for the atrocities committed by Russian troops do not stand up to analysis. They have been disproved emphatically by several international investigative journalist teams including the BBC. The results of Russia’s inhumane actions have horrified the entire international community. The whole world has seen these horrific photographs proving that the Russians invaders committed horrendous war crimes.
The entire Kyiv region was liberated on 2 April from the invading Russian forces. In the liberated towns and villages, demining work started and journalists and volunteers were gradually allowed to enter these areas. It was only from that time that the Ukrainian military and journalists managed to enter the territory of Bucha that had previously been occuppied.
The Ukrainian authorities rightly accuse the Russian army of atrocities. After the liberation of the town, which is located 37 km northwest of Kyiv, a frightening picture emerged before the eyes of the Ukrainian military and journalists. Mass killings of civilians in the town have been confirmed by satellite images collected and published by Maxar Technologies.
Judging by these images, the first signs of excavation for a mass grave (discovered in the town after it was liberated) appeared on March 10, during the period of Russian occupation. Satellite images by Maxar show a trench about 14 metres long, dug in the premises of the Church of St. Andrew the First-Called. The latest images, shot on March 31, show the site of the grave with a nearly 45-foot-long trench, in the southwestern part of the area by the church, according to Maxar. This mass grave was seen by Ukrainian forces after they entered the city, and liberated it from the invaders. The grave remains partially open and human limbs are visible through the clay poured on top of the bodies. This was reported by Reuters. In total, they managed to find the bodies of 280 civilians killed in Bucha. Coroners have already conducted research proving that these people were slain during the Russian occupation.
Almost all leaders of the international community stated that these horrifying shots from Bucha testify to the direct involvement of the Russian army. In particular, immediately after the photos were published, statements were made by German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, where they condemned Russia’s involvement in these war crimes and said that the perpetrators would be inevitably held accountable.
Mass graves, burnt bodies lying on the sidewalks, and raped underage girls are some of the crimes of a month-long Russian occupation of Bucha.
The Russian forces have been committing war crimes ever since they moved into Ukraine on 24 February. As of 25 March, probes have been initiated by Ukraine’s law enforcement into some 2,702 crimes of aggression and war crimes, as well as 1,640 crimes against Ukrainian national security.
On 15 March, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution demanding that Russian President Vladimir Putin be investigated as a war criminal. Numerous cases of destruction of housing infrastructure, killings of civilians, and looting by the Russian military in occupied Ukrainian territory have been recorded.
According to the UN, as of 2 April, some 1,417 civilians, including 121 children, were killed by Russian invaders, and 2,038 were injured including 171 children. But the real figures may be higher due to the inability to take into account those killed and wounded in areas where active hostilities are ongoing, as well as in the occupied territories.