KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian troops.
Iryna Venediktova says on Facebook that the bodies were recovered Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She says 140 of them have undergone examination by prosecutors and other specialists.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says the mayor of the village of Motyzhyn in the Kyiv region was murdered while being held by Russian forces. Vereshchuk adds that there are 11 mayors and community heads in Russian captivity across Ukraine.
In a video address Sunday, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the allegedly targeted killings of civilians in towns that the Russians occupied, calling the killers “freaks who do not know how to do otherwise.” He warns that more atrocities may be revealed if Russian forces are driven out of other occupied areas.
International leaders have condemned the reported attacks in the Kyiv-area towns after harrowing accounts from civilians and graphic images of bodies with hands tied behind their backs.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected the claims of atrocities against civilians in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv.
Zelenskyy calls actions genocide
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says in a U.S. television interview that Russian attacks in Ukraine amount to genocide.
Zelenskyy told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that there are more than 100 nationalities in Ukraine and “this is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities. We are citizens of Ukraine and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of Russian Federation.”
In an excerpt of the interview released by CBS before it aired, he says, “This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated. And this is happening in the Europe of the 21st century. So this is the torture of the whole nation.”
Bus convoy fired upon
The governor of the Kharkiv region says Russian troops fired on a convoy of buses that was trying to evacuate patients from a hospital that had been heavily damaged in shelling a day earlier.
The governor, Oleh Synyehubov, said Sunday that about 70 patients needed to be taken away from the damaged hospital in the town of Balakliya but that the buses were not able to enter the town.
He said there was preliminary information that one of the bus drivers was killed.
Balakliya is about 75 kilometers (45 miles) southeast of the city of Kharkiv, which has been heavily hit by Russian attacks.
Germany: Russian gas should be halted
Germany’s defense minister says European officials should talk about halting gas supplies from Russia in light of the alleged attacks on civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Sunday night on German public broadcaster ARD that “there must be a reaction. Such crimes must not go unanswered.”
So far, Germany and several other European governments have shied away from an immediate boycott of Russian natural gas over fears of the impact it would have on their economies.
Europe gets 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil from Russia, and since the war, has scrambled to set out proposals to reduce its dependency. Russia is just as reliant on Europe, with oil and gas its dominant sector and paying for government operations.
Estimates of the impact of a gas boycott or embargo on Europe vary but most involve a substantial loss of economic output.
Israel condemns reports
Israel’s foreign minister is condemning the reported atrocities in Ukraine, saying deliberate harm to civilians is a war crime.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter that one “cannot remain indifferent” after seeing images from the town of Bucha near Ukraine capital.
Israel has walked a tightrope since Russia invaded Ukraine, simultaneously denouncing the invasion while avoiding taking too strident a stance out of concern of angering Moscow, with whom it has security coordination in neighboring Syria. Israel has good relations with both countries and has mediated between them since the invasion on Feb. 24.
Lapid says that intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime and strongly condemned it.
Ukrainian mayor executed, resident says
A resident says the mayor of the Ukrainian town of Motyzhyn was killed in an execution-style slaying along with her husband and son.
Another resident of the town 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Kyiv told the The Associated Press on Sunday that Russian troops targeted local officials in a bid to win them over and killed them if they did not collaborate. That man, Oleg, declined to give his full name for security reasons.
The mayor, Olga Sukhenko, and her family were shot and thrown into a pit in a forest behind a plot of land with three houses where Russian forces had slept. A fourth body was not yet identified.
The mayor and her family had been reported by others as kidnapped by Russians on March 23 and taken in an unknown direction.
British PM speaks out
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russia’s attack on Ukranian civilians in towns on the outskirts of Kyiv “are yet more evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine.”
Johnson called the attacks in the towns of Irpin and Bucha “despicable” and says he “will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine.” Johnson added that the U.K. will step up its sanctions and military support for Ukraine, but did not provide details.
Other European leaders also condemned the reported attacks on Ukranian civilians in response to images of bodies in the streets and some of the dead with their hands tied behind their backs.
Leaders in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic and Poland expressed outrage at the images. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the images “horrifying” and says Russia has been committing war crimes.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says international organizations should be given access to the areas to independently document the atrocities.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says his country will work with Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court “to ensure these acts don’t go unpunished.”
Brutality ‘absolutely unacceptable’
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the graphic images coming out of Bucha, Ukraine, after Russian troops withdrew show “a brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe for decades.”
He tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that “it’s absolutely unacceptable that civilians are targeted and killed” and that it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin’s responsibility to stop the war.
Stoltenberg says it’s “extremely important” that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine and that those responsible are held to account.
His comments echoed those by other European leaders, who condemned alleged war crimes and civilian killings by Russian forces in Ukrainian towns including Bucha near Kyiv, the capital.
Bucha residents detail events
Residents of the Ukrainian town of Bucha near the capital of Kyiv have given harrowing accounts of how Russian troops shot and killed civilians without any apparent reason.
Bodies of civilians lay strewn across the northern town, which was controlled by Russian soldiers for about a month.
At a logistics compound that residents say was used as a base by Russian forces, the bodies of 8 men could be seen dumped on the ground, some with their hands tied behind their backs.
Residents say Russian troops would go from building to building, take people out of the basements where they were hiding from the fighting, check their phones for evidence of anti-Russian activity and take them away or shoot them.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected the claims of atrocities against civilians in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv as a “provocation.”
The ministry says that “not a single civilian has faced any violent action by the Russian military” in Bucha.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told a U.S. television interview Sunday that Russian attacks in Ukraine amount to genocide.
‘Far from over’
White House chief of staff Ron Klain says the U.S. remains fully committed to providing a full range of economic and military support to Ukraine in its war against Russia, which he describes as “far from over.”
Klain credits Ukrainians for fighting off Russian troops in the northern part of Ukraine and says the U.S. and its allies are sending weapons into the country “almost every single day.”
But he also tells ABC’s “This Week” that there are signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin is redeploying Russian troops to the eastern part of Ukraine.
Klain says while it will be up to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to decide if the political endgame is to allow Russia to occupy the eastern part of Ukraine, from the U.S. standpoint, the “military future of this attack has to be push back.”
He says regarding a potential Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine: “I will tell you, as President Zelenskyy has said, that’s not acceptable to him, and we are going to support him with military aid, with economic aid, with humanitarian aid.”
Russia attacks Odesa targets
The Russian military says it has struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots around the strategic Black Sea port of Odesa.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russian ships and aircraft fired missiles on Sunday to strike the facilities, which he said were used to provide fuel to Ukrainian troops near Mykolaiv.
Konashenkov also said Russian strikes destroyed ammunition depots in Kostiantynivka and Khresyshche.
In a message posted by Italian news agency ANSA, Italian photographer Carlo Orlandi said Odesa woke to military sirens at 5:45 a.m. Sunday, followed immediately by the sounds of bombs falling on the port city from two aircraft.
He described a column of dark smoke rising from the targets, and flames from the buildings.
“What we can see is a dense screen of dark smoke, and one explosion after the other,″ Orlandi said.