Boris Johnson has condemned Russia’s despicable attacks’ on Ukrainians living in Bucha and Irpin as images emerged of a van with ‘children’ written on it riddled with bullet holes and dead civilians with their ‘hands tied after their backs and shot in the head.’
The Prime Minister accused Vladimir Putin and his army of committing war crimes in Ukraine through ‘appalling attacks against innocent civilians.’
An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said over civilians had been found on the roads of the small municipality of Bucha and the Kyiv suburb of Irpin in what he said resembled a ‘horror movie.’
On Sunday evening, Mr. Johnson said the UK government was stepping up sanctions and military support and providing additional support for those in need.
His comments come as former heavyweight champion boxer Wladimir Klitschko visited Bucha to accuse Putin of ‘genocide’ after mass graves filled with civilian corpses were found after Russian troops left the Kyiv suburb.
Yesterday it was claimed that mass graves were discovered on the outskirts of Kyiv amid fears that brutal Russian troops were executing civilians as they retreated.
The ex-boxer and brother of Kyiv’s mayor took to Twitter to accuse the Russian regime of genocide.
He used his platform to show the corpse of a civilian with his hands tied behind his back to show the devastating trail of destruction that Russian troops had left in the Kyiv Oblast after retreating from the north of Ukraine.
He said: ‘What happened here and happening all over Ukraine is not a particular operation, and there are no military objects. This is civilians that have been shot in the head with tied hands behind their backs.
‘This is a genocide of the Ukrainian population, and that’s precisely what the Russian regime, Putin’s regime, the Russian army is doing.
‘Killing the civilians with tied hands behind their back and with a shot in the head.’
Russia’s defense ministry has denied accusations of Russian troops killing civilians in Bucha.
The Associated Press said its reporters in Bucha, north-west of Kyiv, watched as Ukrainian soldiers used ropes to drag bodies off a street – from space due to fears they may be booby-trapped – as Russian troops start and focus attacks on other parts of Ukraine.
A journalist takes a video of a mass grave in Bucha, a suburb located on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
In an assertion, Mr. Johnson said the UK is ‘stepping up’ its boycotts and military aid and ‘bolstering’ humanitarian support for those on the bottom.
He said: ‘Russia’s despicable aggression against innocent civilians in Irpin and Bucha is more evidence that Putin and his army are perpetrating war crimes in Ukraine.
‘No contradiction or disinformation from the Kremlin can obscure what we all know to be the truth – Putin is desperate, his attack is failing, and Ukraine’s will has never been stronger.
‘I will do everything I can to starve Putin’s war machine. We are stepping up our boycotts and military support and bolstering our humanitarian support box to help those in demand on the ground.
‘The UK has been at the vanguard of helping the International Criminal Court investigate atrocities committed in Ukraine. The Justice Secretary has authorized additional financial support and the deployment of expert investigators – we will not rest until justice is served.’
This refers to support for the ICC’s investigation announced last week.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said on March 24 that an additional £1 million in funding would be provided, and soldiers with military expertise would be assigned to the ICC to help uncover evidence.
It added that Scotland Yard’s War Crimes Team would also be mobilized to assist in the investigation.
Earlier Sunday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said ‘indiscriminate’ aggression by Russian forces against harmless civilians in Irpin and Bucha must be considered war crimes.
An older woman cries near her house in Bucha, where the mayor said 280 people had been buried in a mass grave and the area is littered with corpses.
On Saturday evening, Downing Street said Mr. Johnson had spoken with Zelensky and congratulated the country’s ‘brave armed points for successfully pushing back Russia’s raiding army in several areas.
A spokesman said the Prime Minister ‘recognized the huge challenges’ and the ‘immense suffering being inflicted on civilians.’
A Downing Street spokesman added: ‘The Prime Minister updated President Zelenskyy on the improvement made at last week’s military donor conference, convened by the UK with 35 countries, and committed to step up defensive support.
‘President Zelenskyy stressed the urgency of Ukraine’s struggle to survive as a free and democratic country and the importance of international assistance.
‘President Zelenskyy also updated on the status of peace negotiations and received further UK involvement in these diplomatic efforts. Both leaders agreed on the importance of ratcheting sanctions to increase the economic pressure on Putin’s war machine so long as Russian armies remain on Ukrainian territory.
‘They committed to remain in near contact and speak again in the coming days.’
Ukrainians claimed Russian forces’ booby-trap corpses and executed civilians while retreating from the recaptured Kyiv area.’
Horrific images appeared of bodies strewn across the streets of Bucha, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces on Friday.
Last night, the mayor, Anatoly Fedoruk, said: ‘We have already planted 280 people in mass graves.’
The remains of at least 20 men in civilian attire were lying along a single residential street. One had his hands tied after his back with a white cloth, and a Ukrainian passport lay nearby.
‘All these people were shot, destroyed, in the rear of the head,’ Mr. Fedoruk said.
He counted that many of the bodies had white applications on them ‘to display that they were unarmed’ and that a 14-year-old boy was among the dead.
He claimed some of the saints had tried to cross the Buchanka river to the Ukrainian-controlled part and that entire relatives had perished, including ‘children, women, grandmothers. These are the results of Russian occupation,’ he added.
Kira Rudik, an MP, posted a video of the terrifying scene on Twitter and wrote: ‘Russians were killing people with their hands tied after their rears and left the bodies around the road. I am shaking.’
Bucha, a suburban town of 28,000 people, has been ravaged by the fighting.
Shell explosions have bungled gaping holes in flat blocks, and crushed cars litter the streets, according to the first journalists to reach the town.
Sixteen of the 20 remains on one street were either on the pavement or on the verge. Three were sprawled in the center of the road, and another was lying in the yard of a house. One seemed to have been killed as he rode his bicycle.
All wore civilian clothes, including jackets or tracksuit tops, jeans or jogging bases, and trainers or boots.
A body of a civilian, who, according to residents, was killed by Russian army soldiers and then buried along with others in one grave, is seen amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Bucha
Mr. Zelensky warned that Moscow’s fleeing troops are building a complete disaster’ in suburbs and towns outside Kyiv.
Shattered homes, military tools, and even the bodies of those slain have been provided with explosives as Russian parties withdraw, he said in his nightly video talk to the nation.
‘They are mining the whole territory, and they are mining homes, mining equipment, and even the bodies of people killed. There are a lot of tripwires, a lot of other dangers,’ he said.
Local troops have been pulling bodies from the roads with lengthy lines for fear they might have been rigged to explode.
One burgher in the commuter town of Bucha said departing Russian troops were indiscriminately bombing civilians as they left.
‘Those people were strolling, and they shot them without any sense. Bang,’ one resident said, falling to give his name for safety reasons.
‘In the next area, Stekolka, it was even worse. They would shoot without asking any questions.’
Ms. Truss said the UK would ‘not rest’ until those liable for ‘atrocities’ in Ukraine had faced magistrate, adding that Russia would not be permitted to cover up its involvement through ‘cynical disinformation.’
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelensky, said Sunday that scores of killed civilians have been found on Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel after the withdrawal of Russian troops and compared the scene to a horror movie.
Arestovych said some targets were shot in the head and had their writings bound, and some of the bodies had signs of torture. He accused Russian troops of raping women and trying to burn their bodies.
Arestovych said Ukrainian authorities would investigate the alleged war crimes and track down the perpetrators.
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 forceful action by the Russian military’ in Bucha.
Mr. Zelensky’s spokesman Sergey Nikiforov said leaders in Ukraine had found what examined ‘just like war offenses,’ including the bodies of executed civilians and mass graves.
Mr. Nikiforov told the BBC’s Sunday Morning program the scenes discovered in de-occupied settlements such as Bucha were ‘hard to describe.’
He said: ‘We found mass graves. We saw people with their hands and legs tied up… and with shots, pellet holes, in the back of their heads.
‘They were civilians, and they were executed.
‘We found half-burned bodies as if someone tried to conceal their crimes but didn’t have enough time to do it properly.’
Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said ‘the world must take note’ of events in Ukraine.
Asked if alleged war crimes should be brought to the ICC, he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘I think this should be all adequately documented. This matters.
‘We’ve seen in war before it matters that this is documented and that cases can be brought to international justice.’
On Saturday night, Mr. Shapps said he spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart, infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
‘He is very, very determined – wanted to speak to me last night about rebuilding their country when this is all over, so I think they believe and are optimistic that they will win this war and push Putin back,’ he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that Russia is hiring in ‘genocide’ after mass graves and at least 280 people were discovered dead in a commuter city outside Kyiv as Putin’s troops started fleeing the capital city.
The Ukrainian director said that for de-occupation to be successful, he will get nothing less than Putin’s complete withdrawal from all of Ukraine – including resource-rich areas in the east.
Zelensky said that he would be willing to sit down with Putin once there is a ceasefire, and Russian troops leave Ukraine, counting that the world cannot wish him to have further discussions with the authoritarian leader. At the same time, there is still an active attack.