Residents of Kyiv suburb say retreating Russian troops killed civilians for no apparent reason

Residents of the Ukrainian town of Bucha, near the capital Kyiv, have given harrowing accounts of how Russian troops shot and killed civilians for no apparent reason.

Reports draw international condemnations, calls for war crimes investigation

Ukraine accuses Russian troops of killing civilians in Bucha

4 months ago
Duration 1:26
Ukrainian forces recently liberated the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, from Russian forces. What they found was destruction and allegations of civilians being killed by Russian troops.

The latest:

  • Ukraine says bodies of 410 civilians removed from Kyiv area.
  • Russia rejects claims of atrocities against civilians in Bucha.
  • Oil and fuel infrastructure hit by Russian missiles in Odesa.
  • Regional governor says shelling in Kharkiv has continued.
  • Russians completely withdrawn from north, says Ukraine.

Warning: This story contains images of dead bodies.

Residents of the Ukrainian town of Bucha, near the capital Kyiv, have given harrowing accounts of how Russian troops shot and killed civilians for no apparent reason.

Bodies of civilians lay strewn across the northern town, which was controlled by Russian soldiers for about a month.

At a logistics compound that residents say was used as a base by Russian forces, the bodies of eight men could be seen dumped on the ground, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

PHOTOS | Day 39 of Russia's invasion of Ukraine: 

Residents say Russian troops would go from building to building, take people out of the basements where they were hiding from the fighting, check their phones for evidence of anti-Russian activity and take them away or shoot them.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser said authorities have found evidence of serious war crimes by Russian troops on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Sunday that scores of killed civilians have been found on the streets of the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel after the withdrawal of Russian troops. He compared the scene to "a horror movie."

He 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.

A mass grave is seen in Bucha on Sunday. A Ukrainian presidential adviser said authorities have found evidence of serious war crimes by Russian troops on the outskirts of Kyiv. (Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press)

Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine's prosecutor general, said the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces. She said 140 of them have undergone examination by prosecutors and other specialists.

Russia's Defence 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.

Dmitry Polansky, Russia's first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, on Sunday requested that the UN Security Council convene on Monday to discuss what he called a "provocation by Ukrainian radicals" in the town of Bucha.

International condemnation 

The reports drew international condemnation, including from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"We strongly condemn the murder of civilians in Ukraine, remain committed to holding the Russian regime accountable, and will continue to do everything we can to support the people of Ukraine," Trudeau said on Twitter. 

"Those responsible for these egregious and appalling attacks will be brought to justice."

Ukrainian soldiers are seen amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha. The town was controlled by Russian soldiers for about a month before it was recaptured. (Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the images as "a punch in the gut," while United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called for an independent investigation.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russia's attack on Ukrainian civilians provides "yet more evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine."

Johnson called the attacks in the towns of Irpin and Bucha "despicable" and said he "will do everything in my power to starve Putin's war machine." Johnson added that the U.K. will step up its sanctions and military support for Ukraine, but he did not provide details.

Dead bodies lie on a street in Bucha on Saturday. Ukraine's prosecutor general said the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Other European leaders also condemned the reported attacks on Ukrainian civilians in response to images of bodies in the streets and some of the dead with their hands tied behind their backs.

Leaders in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic and Poland expressed outrage at the images. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the images "horrifying" and said Russia has been committing war crimes.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said international organizations should be given access to the areas to independently document the atrocities.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country will work with Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court "to ensure these acts don't go unpunished."

Odesa fuel infrastructure hit

The Russian military says it has struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots around the strategic Black Sea port of Odesa.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russian ships and aircraft fired missiles on Sunday to strike the facilities, which he said were used to provide fuel to Ukrainian troops near Mykolaiv.

Konashenkov also said Russian strikes destroyed ammunition depots in Kostiantynivka and Khresyshche.

Smoke rises in the air after shelling in Odessa, Ukraine, on Sunday. The Russian military says it has struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots around the strategic Black Sea port city. (Petros Giannakouris/The Associated Press)

In a message posted by Italian news agency ANSA, Italian photographer Carlo Orlandi said Odesa woke to military sirens at 5:45 a.m. on Sunday, followed immediately by the sounds of bombs falling on the port city from two aircraft.

He described a column of dark smoke rising from the targets and flames from the buildings.

"What we can see is a dense screen of dark smoke, and one explosion after the other," Orlandi said.

Attacks in Kharkiv

The governor of the Kharkiv region says Russian troops fired on a convoy of buses that was trying to transport patients from a hospital that had been heavily damaged in shelling a day earlier.

Gov. Oleh Synyehubov said Sunday that about 70 patients needed to be taken away from the damaged hospital in the town of Balakliya — about 75 kilometres southeast of the city of Kharkiv — but that the buses were not able to enter the town. He said there was preliminary information that one of the bus drivers was killed.

Earlier on Sunday, Synyehubov said Russian artillery and tanks carried out more than 20 strikes on Kharkiv and its outskirts over the past 24 hours.

Synyehubov had said said four people were wounded in a Russian missile strike on Lozova, in the south of the Kharkiv region.

Russians withdrawing from north

The Ukrainian military says Russian troops have completed their pullback from the country's north.

The military's General Staff said in Sunday's statement that Russian units have withdrawn from areas in the country's north to neighbouring Belarus, which served as a staging ground for the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian military said its airborne forces have taken full control of the town of Pripyat, just outside the decommissioned Chornobyl nuclear power plant and the section of the border with Belarus. It posted a picture of the Ukrainian soldier putting up the country's flag, with a shelter containing the Chornobyl reactor that exploded in 1986 seen in the background.

Officials working on Mariupol evacuations

Work on evacuating Mariupol was to continue on Sunday with buses attempting to come close to the besieged city, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Vereshchuk said Ukrainian officials were in talks with Russia to allow several Red Cross buses to enter the city. The Red Cross abandoned earlier attempts due to security concerns. Russia blamed the Red Cross for the delays.

Mariupol is Russia's main target in Ukraine's southeastern region of Donbas — an area that's been partly controlled by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014 — and tens of thousands of civilians there have been trapped for weeks with scant access to food and water.

The fall of the southern port city would help Russia establish a land bridge from the Donbas to Crimea, a southern region annexed by Russia in 2014.

Vereshchuk also said on Sunday that 2,694 people were rescued from conflict zones in Mariupol and the region of Luhansk, which is also located in the Donbas region.

With files from Reuters and CBC News