LVIV, Ukraine -Ukraine on Sunday demanded crippling new sanctions on Russia from major Western powers over a “massacre” in a town near Kyiv as anger grew in Western capitals and Germany said that those responsible for war crimes should pay.
Ukraine said on Saturday that its forces had retaken all areas around Kyiv. The mayor of Bucha, a liberated town 37 km (23 miles) northwest of the capital, said that 300 of its residents had been killed by the Russian army.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for international war crimes investigators to visit the area to collect evidence and said Kyiv believed the killing of civilians was deliberate.
Russia’s defence ministry denied that Russian forces had killed civilians in Bucha, and said all photographs and footage showing dead bodies were “yet another provocation”. In a statement, it said all Russian military units had left the town on March 30.
Moscow has previously denied allegations that it has targeted civilians, and has rejected accusations of war crimes.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described images of large numbers of dead Ukrainians in Bucha following Russia’s withdrawal as a “punch in the gut” in an interview with CNN.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian condemned what he called the “massive abuses” committed by Russian forces and said Paris would work with Ukraine and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to put those responsible on trial.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted: “The images from Bucha are unbearable, Putin’s uninhibited violence is extinguishing innocent families and knows no boundaries.
“Those responsible for these war crimes must be made accountable. We will tighten the sanctions against Russia and will assist Ukraine even more in defending itself.”
Kuleba called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to visit Bucha and other towns around Kyiv as soon as possible to work with Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to “thoroughly collect all evidence of Russian war crimes” the ministry quoted him as saying.
“We are still gathering and looking for bodies, but the number has already gone into the hundreds,” he added. “Dead bodies lie on the streets. They killed civilians while staying there and when they were leaving these villages and towns.”
On his Telegram channel, he wrote: “Bucha massacre was deliberate.”
Andriy Sybiha, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, called alongside Kuleba for a wave of new measures by the Group of Seven major Western economic powers: extending sanctions to all its banks, closing ports to its ships and imposing an embargo on all trade.
“The current sanctions are not having enough of an effect as the war is continuing,” he said.