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 behind their backs and shot in the head’.
The Prime Minister accused Vladimir Putin and his army of committing war crimes in Ukraine by carrying out ‘despicable attacks against innocent civilians’.
An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky earlier said dead civilians had been found on the streets of the small city 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, as well as providing additional support for those in need on the ground.
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 are executing civilians as they retreated.
The ex-boxer and brother to the mayor of Kyiv 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 have left in the Kyiv Oblast after retreating from the north of Ukraine.
He said: ‘What happened here and what’s happening all over Ukraine is not a special operation. This is not military objects. This is civilians that have been shot in the head with tied hands behind their back.
‘This is a genocide of the Ukrainian population and that’s exactly 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 defence ministry has denied accusations of Russian troops killing civilians in Bucha.
The Associated Press said its journalists in Bucha, north-west of Kyiv, watched as Ukrainian soldiers used cables to drag bodies off a street – from a distance due to fears they may be booby-trapped – as Russian troops withdraw and focus attacks on other parts of Ukraine.
**WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT**
The body of a man, with his wrists tied behind his back, lies on a street in Bucha, just northwest of the capital Kyiv. The bodies of civilians were found in Bucha and Irpin as Russian troops left the areas
Boris Johnson has condemned Russia’s despicable attacks’ on Ukrainians living in the besieged cities of Bucha and Irpin after a van with ‘children’ written on it was found riddled with bullet holes
Communal workers carry a body of a civilian man killed by shelling from Russian troops in Bucha
A journalist takes a video of a mass grave in Bucha, a suburb located on the outskirts of the Ukraine capital Kyiv
Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko (right) talks with people in the town of Bucha alongside his brother Wladimir Klitschko (left)
In a statement, Mr Johnson said the UK is ‘stepping up’ its sanctions and military support, and ‘bolstering’ humanitarian help for those on the ground.
He said: ‘Russia’s despicable attacks against innocent civilians in Irpin and Bucha are yet more evidence that Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine.
‘No denial or disinformation from the Kremlin can hide what we all know to be the truth – Putin is desperate, his invasion is failing, and Ukraine’s resolve has never been stronger.
‘I will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine. We are stepping up our sanctions and military support, as well as bolstering our humanitarian support package to help those in need on the ground.
‘The UK has been at the forefront of supporting the international Criminal Court’s investigation into atrocities committed in Ukraine. The Justice Secretary has authorised additional financial support and the deployment of specialist investigators – we will not rest until justice is served.’
It is understood 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.
Scotland Yard’s War Crimes Team would also be mobilised to assist the investigation, it added.
Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said ‘indiscriminate’ attacks by Russian forces against innocent civilians in Irpin and Bucha must be investigated as war crimes.
Ms Truss said the UK would ‘not rest’ until those responsible for ‘atrocities’ in Ukraine had faced justice, adding that Russia would not be allowed to cover up its involvement through ‘cynical disinformation’.
A Ukrainian soldier waves the country’s flag at a checkpoint in Bucha, not far from the capital city of Kyiv, on Saturday, April 2
Associated Press journalists in Bucha saw the bodies of at least nine people in civilian clothes who appeared to have been killed at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs
A woman hugs a Ukrainian serviceman after a convoy of military and aid vehicles arrived in the formerly Russian-occupied Kyiv suburb of Bucha
An elderly woman cries near her house in Bucha where the mayor said 280 people had been buried in a mass grave and that the area is littered with corpses
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelensky, said Sunday scores of killed civilians have been found on the streets of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel after the withdrawal of Russian troops and compared the scene to ‘a horror movie’.
Arestovych said some victims were shot in the head and had their hands 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 will 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 violent action by the Russian military’ in Bucha.
Mr Zelensky’s spokesman Sergey Nikiforov said authorities in Ukraine had found what looked ‘exactly like war crimes’, including the bodies of executed civilians and mass graves.
Mr Nikiforov told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme the scenes discovered in de-occupied territories such as Bucha were ‘really hard to describe’.
He said: ‘We found mass graves. We found people with their hands and with their legs tied up… and with shots, bullet holes, in the back of their head.
‘They were clearly civilians and they were executed.
‘We found half-burned bodies as if somebody tried to hide their crimes but they 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 it is absolutely right that this is all properly documented. This matters.
‘We’ve seen in war before, it matters that this is documented and that cases are capable of being brought to international justice.’
Mr Shapps said he spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart, infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, on Saturday night.
‘He is very, very determined – actually wanted to speak to me last night about the rebuilding of 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 engaging in ‘genocide’ after mass graves and at least 280 people were found dead in a commuter city outside Kyiv as Putin’s troops started fleeing the capital city.
The Ukrainian leader said that for de-occupation to be successful, he will accept nothing less than Putin’s full withdrawal from all of Ukraine – including resource-rich areas in the east.
Zelensky said that he will be willing to sit down with Putin again once there is a ceasefire in place and Russian troops leave Ukraine, adding that the world cannot expect him to have further discussions with the authoritarian leader while there is still an active attack.
Four people, all thought to be civilians, were found dead under a blanket on the side of a highway close to Bucha, Ukraine
A man walks with bags of food gave for the Ukranian army in Bucha. 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
A member of a civilian defence force looks underneath a blanket where four people, all thought to be civilians, were found dead near Bucha
A Ukrainian serviceman uses a piece of wood to check if the body of a man dressed in civilian clothing is booby-trapped with explosive devices
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
On Saturday evening, Downing Street said Mr Johnson had spoken with Zelensky and congratulated the country’s ‘brave armed forces for successfully pushing back Russia’s invading army in a number of areas’.
A spokesman said the Prime Minister ‘recognised the huge challenges’ that remain and the ‘immense suffering being inflicted on civilians’.
A Downing Street spokesman added: ‘The Prime Minister updated President Zelenskyy on the progress made at last week’s military donor conference, convened by the UK with 35 countries, and committed to continue to step up defensive support.
‘President Zelenskyy underscored the urgency of Ukraine’s fight for its survival as a free and democratic nation and the importance of international assistance.
‘President Zelenskyy also updated on the status on peace negotiations and welcomed further UK involvement in these diplomatic efforts. Both leaders agreed on the importance of continuing to ratchet up sanctions to increase the economic pressure on Putin’s war machine, so long as Russian troops remain on Ukrainian territory.
‘They committed to remain in close contact and speak again in the coming days.’
Ukrainians claimed Russian forces ‘booby-trap corpses and execute civilians while retreating from the recaptured Kyiv area’.
Horrific images emerged of bodies strewn across the streets of Bucha, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces on Friday.
The mayor, Anatoly Fedoruk, last night said: ‘We have already buried 280 people in mass graves.’
The corpses of at least 20 men in civilian clothes were found lying along a single residential street. One had his hands tied behind his back with white cloth. A Ukrainian passport lay on the ground nearby.
‘All these people were shot, killed, in the back of the head,’ Mr Fedoruk said.
He added that many of the bodies had white bandages on them ‘to show that they were unarmed’ and that a 14-year-old boy was among the dead.
He claimed some of the victims had tried to cross the Buchanka river to Ukrainian-controlled territory and that entire families had perished, including ‘children, women, grandmothers. These are the consequences of Russian occupation,’ he added.
A Ukrainian soldier passes by destroyed Russian tanks in the village of Dmytrivka close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Apr. 2, 2022. As Russian forces pull back from Ukraine’s capital region, retreating troops are creating a ‘catastrophic’ situation for civilians by leaving mines around homes, abandoned equipment and ‘even the bodies of those killed,’ Zelensky warned Saturday
A Ukrainian soldier inspects a damaged Russian tank depicting the ‘V’ sign as their armed forces continue to share photographs of heavy Russian losses
Local residents in the village of Dmitrivka, near Kyiv, emerge from their homes and begin clearing away the burned remains of Russian tanks after a string of successful Ukrainian counterattacks
Kira Rudik, an MP, posted a video of the horrifying scene on Twitter and wrote: ‘Russians were killing people with their hands tied behind their backs and left the bodies near the road. I am shaking.’
Bucha, a suburban town of 28,000 people, has been left devastated by the fighting.
Shell explosions have blown gaping holes in apartment blocks and crushed cars litter the streets, according to the first journalists to reach the town.
Sixteen of the 20 corpses found on one street were lying either on the pavement or by the verge. Three were sprawled in the middle of the road and another was lying in the courtyard of a house. One appeared to have been killed as he rode his bicycle.
All were wearing civilian clothes, including jackets or tracksuit tops, jeans or jogging bottoms, and trainers or boots.
Mr Zelensky warned that Moscow’s retreating troops are creating ‘a complete disaster’ in suburbs and towns outside Kyiv.
Shattered homes, military equipment and even the bodies of those killed have been rigged with explosives as Russian forces withdraw, he said in his nightly video address to the nation.
‘They are mining the whole territory. They are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed. There are a lot of tripwires, a lot of other dangers,’ he said.
Local troops have been removing bodies from the roads with long cables for fear they might have been rigged to explode.
One resident in the commuter town of Bucha said departing Russian troops were indiscriminately shooting civilians as they left.
‘Those people were just walking and they shot them without any reason. Bang,’ one resident said, declining to give his name for safety reasons.
‘In the next neighbourhood, Stekolka, it was even worse. They would shoot without asking any question.’
An aerial picture shows burned Russian armoured vehicles in the outskirts of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, on Friday
Columns of Russian armoured vehicles have been reduced to rubble as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s troops continue to repel Russian forces, and in some instances recapture roads and settlements near to Kyiv
Last night, there were signs that peace talks were at a stage where Zelensky could meet in person with Putin.
The head of the Ukraine delegation, David Arakhamia, told local television that Russia accepted Ukraine’s overall position, with the exception of its stance on Crimea.
Russia did not comment on the claims. The talks would most likely take place in Turkey but both sides have described negotiations in recent days as difficult.
The former UN chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte also called Vladimir Putin a ‘war criminal’ and called for an international arrest warrant for him.
Ms Del Ponte was in charge of prosecutions of war crime tribunals for the UN in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Even though several areas have seen Russian retreats, Zelensky said he expected towns they have departed to endure missile and rocket strikes from afar.
He has also cautioned that: ‘It’s still not possible to return to normal life, as it used to be, even at the territories that we are taking back after the fighting.’
As Ukrainian troops advance into areas once controlled by their enemies they are discovering large columns of destroyed Russian armored vehicles.
Since the conflict began in late February, Russia has lost an estimated 143 planes, 131 helicopters, 625 tanks and 316 artillery pieces.
Russia has also fired at least 1,100 missiles, raising questions about how long it can maintain such an expenditure rate.