Russia faces growing outrage amid new evidence of atrocities

Russia faces growing outrage amid new evidence of atrocities

Bucha: Russia faced a fresh wave of condemnation on Monday after evidence emerged of what appeared to be deliberate killings of civilians in Ukraine.

Some Western leaders called for further sanctions in response, even as Moscow continued to press its offensive in the country's east.

Germany's defence minister suggested the European Union discuss a ban on Russian gas imports, but more senior officials indicated an immediate boycott was not possible a sign that leaders could struggle in the short-term to ramp up already severe sanctions on Russia.

Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around capital Kyiv that were recaptured from Russian forces in recent days.

In Bucha, northwest of the capital, Associated Press journalists saw 21 bodies.

One group of nine, all in civilian clothes, were scattered around a site that residents said Russian troops used as a base. They appeared to have been shot at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs.

In Motyzhyn, to the west of Kyiv, AP journalists saw the bodies of four people who appeared to have been shot at close range and thrown into a pit.

Residents said the mayor, her son, and her husband who had been bound and blindfolded were among them.

The images of battered corpses lying in the streets or hastily dug graves unleashed a wave of outrage that could signal a turning point in the nearly six-week-old war.

However, sanctions have thus far failed to halt the offensive, and rising energy prices along with tight controls on the Russian currency market have blunted their impact, with the ruble rebounding strongly after initially crashing.

Western and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of war crimes before, and the International Criminal Court's prosecutor has opened a probe to investigate the conflict, but the latest reports ratcheted up the condemnation even further, with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and some Western leaders going so far as to accuse Russia of genocide.

In a video shown during the Grammy Awards in Las Vegas for musicians and other artists, Zelenskyy implored them to support his nation and fill the silence with your music .

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the allegations, describing the scenes outside Kyiv as a stage-managed anti-Russian provocation .

He said the mayor of Bucha made no mention of atrocities a day after Russian troops left last week, but two days later scores of bodies were photographed scattered in the streets.

He said Russia was pushing for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the matter, but the UK, which currently chairs the body, has refused to convene it.

The US and Britain have accused Russia in recent weeks of using Security Council meetings to spread disinformation.

European leaders, meanwhile, left no doubt about who they thought was behind the killings. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the Russian authorities are responsible for these atrocities, committed while they had effective control of the area.

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