Bucha, Ukraine –
The green beauty of the pine forest with birds singing with the violent deaths of victims recently found in the Russian war in Ukraine as workers exhumed bodies from another mass grave near the town of Bucha on the outskirts of Kiev.
Many of the victims’ hands were tied behind their backs. The horrific work of excavating the remains coincides with a report by the Ukrainian police chief that authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the killings of more than 12,000 people since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Workers in white hazmat suits and masks used shovels to exhume bodies from the forest soil, marking each section with small yellow markings on the ground. The body covered with cloth and garbage attracted the flies.
Kiev Regional Police Chief Andrei Nebitov said at the scene that “knee-length bullets indicate people were tortured.” “The tapes show that people have been held hostage for a long time with their hands tied behind their backs and that (enemy forces) have been trying to get any information from them.”
Since the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region in late March, authorities have found the bodies of 1,316 people, most of them in jungles and elsewhere in mass graves.
Buka’s terror shocked the world when he left the Russian army. The mass grave that reporters saw on Monday was behind a hole dug for a military vehicle. The bodies of seven civilians have been exhumed. Nebitov said the two bodies were found handcuffed and shot in the knees and head.
National police chief Igor Klimenko told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Monday that a criminal investigation into the deaths of more than 12,000 Ukrainians included those found in mass graves. He asserted that his confession had been obtained through torture. Bodies were found on the streets and in houses, as well as in mass graves.
He did not specify how many of the more than 12,000 were civilians and how many were military.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the American Jewish Committee on Sunday that he did not know the exact number of bodies in mass graves or other places. He cited the case of two children who were killed along with their parents in the basement of an apartment building in Mariupol when a Russian bomb exploded. Jelensky, a Jew who lost a relative in the Holocaust, asked:
“Why is this happening in 2022? This is not the 1940s. How can mass killings, torture, burning cities and filtration camps set up in Russian-occupied territories, such as Nazi concentration camps, be realized? “
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Ukrainian forces had driven Russians out of more than 1,000 settlements since the start of the war and promised on Monday that they would liberate all occupied territories, including Crimea, which was occupied by Russia in 2014.
In his video address of the night, he said that the battle over Donbass would “definitely go down as the most brutal battle for Europe and Europe in military history.”
“The cost of this war is very high for us,” he said. “It’s just awful.”
He said the country’s total war front is now 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) long.
Amnesty International said in a report on Monday that Russia had indiscriminately used banned cluster munitions in the Kharkiv attack, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has come under heavy fire since Russia invaded Ukraine.
“The repeated use of widely banned cluster weapons is shocking, and an additional indication of the complete disregard for civilian life,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser. “The Russian forces responsible for these horrific attacks must be held accountable for their actions, and the victims and their families must receive full compensation.”
The report quoted doctors at Kharkiv Hospital who showed investigators the specific pieces they had removed from the patient’s body, as well as survivors and witnesses to the attack.
Luhansk Governor Serhi Hyde told the Associated Press that fierce street fighting continued Monday in Sivirodonetsk, one of the two largest cities in the Donbass region, which is yet to be fully occupied by Russian forces.
During the day, Haidai updated his estimates on how much of the city is controlled by Russians from 70 to 80 percent. Ukrainian forces are fighting “block-by-block, street-by-street, house-to-house-to-house with success,” he told the AP.
More than 10,000 people remain in the city. Heidi said efforts to remove them had been halted because Russian forces had destroyed two of the three bridges connecting Luhansk’s second city, Sivirodonetsk, and Lisichansk, which Moscow had not yet captured. The governor said the remaining bridges were old, dilapidated and unsafe.
Lisichansk remains under Ukrainian control, but is regularly shelled by Russian troops. On Sunday, Hyde said the shooting killed three civilians, including a 6-year-old boy, in the city.
Eduard Basurin, an official with the Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk, claimed on Monday that Siviarodonetsk had been blocked and that Ukrainian fighters had no choice but to surrender. Haidai dismissed it as a “lie.”
“There is no threat to our army in the Luhansk region,” he said.
Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region said Monday that Ukrainian forces had shelled a market in the city of Donetsk, killing three civilians and wounding 18 others. According to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, this is the largest shooting by the Ukrainian army since 2015.
The head of the Russian-backed government in Donetsk, Denis Pushlin, also cited heavy shelling and said in his telegram that more troops – especially Russians – had been called in to help.
The Russian military said Monday it had destroyed “a large number of weapons and military equipment” received by the Ukrainian army from the United States and Europe.
Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said “high-precision air-to-air missiles” hit the supply near the Udachana railway station in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. Konashenkov also said that a “temporary deployment point for foreign mercenaries” and the Ukrainian radar station of the Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile system had crashed in the neighboring Luhansk region.
Two batteries of multiple-launch rocket systems have been destroyed in the Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, Konashenkov said.
Russia’s claim to Ukraine has not been immediately confirmed.
The Dutch government has said it will hold a ministerial conference on accountability in Ukraine next month aimed at strengthening and coordinating war crimes investigations.
Foreign Minister Wopke Hoikstra said Monday that the international community has already taken swift action to investigate the alleged atrocities in Ukraine, but that “there is an urgent need to further coordinate existing efforts on this front.”
The July 14 meeting in The Hague will be hosted by the Dutch government, Karim Khan, prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, and Didier Renders, European commissioner for justice.
Khan has already launched an investigation and deployed his largest team of prosecutors in Ukraine to gather evidence, including in Bucha near the Kiev capital, where bodies were dumped on the streets after Russian troops withdrew at the start of the war.