Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday accused Russia of “genocide,” as horrifying images of dead civilians emerged as Russian troops retreated from the capital region.
Bodies with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture lay scattered in the city of Bucha as Russian troops withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv.
“This is genocide,” Zelenskyy said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.” “The elimination of the whole nation and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities.
“We are the citizens of Ukraine, and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of Russian Federation,” he added. “This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated, and this is happening in the Europe of the 21st century. So this is the torture of the whole nation.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin along with all of the military commanders, everyone who gave instructions and orders, should be “punished adequately,” Zelenskyy said.
“We couldn’t have imagined anything like this because this is a maniac type of decision to destroy the whole nation,” he added.
The bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces. Some of the Ukrainians had their hands tied behind their back and were decapitated.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelenskyy, described bodies lying the streets as a “scene from a horror movie.” He alleged that some of the women found dead had been raped before being killed and the Russians then burned the bodies.
The emergence of the horrific images from Bucha over the weekend prompted widespread calls for investigations into war crimes.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the images as a “punch to the gut.”
“We have come out and said that we believe that Russian forces have committed war crimes,” Blinken said Sunday on CNN’s “State of Union.”
“We can’t become numb to this. We can’t normalize this,” Blinken said. “This is the reality of what’s going on every single day as long as Russia’s brutality against Ukraine continues.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss echoed Blinken.
“Their indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians during Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes,” Truss said.
The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called for an investigation into the alleged atrocities: “Appalled by reports of unspeakable horrors in areas from which Russia is withdrawing,” she wrote on Twitter. “An independent investigation is urgently needed. Perpetrators of war crimes will be held accountable.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the photos and videos of dead bodies “have been stage managed by the Kyiv regime for the Western media.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the Biden administration to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the invasion.
The U.S. needs to “double down” on sanctions that hurt Putin, Clinton said as the Biden administration has levied a series of punishments during the last month amid Russia’s attack of Ukraine.
“The only way that we’re going to end the bloodshed and the terror that we’re seeing unleashed in Ukraine and protect Europe and democracy is to do everything we can to impose even greater costs on Putin,” Clinton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“There are more banks that can be sanctioned and taken out of the so-called SWIFT relationship,” she added. “There is an increasing call for doing more on gas and oil … I think now is the time to double down on the pressure.”
Moscow now says it is focusing its offensive on the country’s east, but it also pressed a siege on a city in the north and continued to strike cities elsewhere. Russian forces launched missiles on the Black Sea port of Odesa, in southern Ukraine, sending up clouds of dark smoke that veiled parts of the city.
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