Ukraine claims Kiev region as Russian forces retreat
Ukraine said it had regained control of the Kiev region, with Russian troops retreating from around the capital and Chernigiv city, as evidence emerged of possible civilian killings in areas the invading forces have been occupying.
AFP reporters saw at least 20 bodies, all in civilian clothing, strewn across a single street in the town of Bucha near the capital and the body of a missing photographer was discovered in a nearby village.
Three of them were tangled up in bicycles after taking their final ride, while others had fallen next to bullet-ridden and crushed cars.
One had his hands tied behind his back with a white cloth, and his Ukrainian passport left open beside his corpse, said AFP journalists who accessed the ravaged town.
“All these people were shot,” Bucha’s mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told AFP, adding that 280 other bodies had been buried in mass graves in the town.
“These are the consequences of Russian occupation,” said Fedoruk.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was “appalled by atrocities in Bucha and other towns in Ukraine”.
“Reports of Russian forces targeting innocent civilians are abhorrent. The UK is working with others to collect evidence and support @IntlCrimCourt war crimes investigation. Those responsible will be held to account,” Truss tweeted late Saturday.
The International Criminal Court has already opened a probe into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine, and several Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have accused Russia’s Vladimir Putin of being a “war criminal”.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has also accused Russian soldiers of planting mines and other booby traps as they withdraw from northern Ukraine.
“They are leaving behind a complete disaster and many dangers.... Firstly, the air strikes may continue. Secondly, they are mining the whole territory. Mining houses, equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed,” he said in a video address Saturday, warning returning residents of tripwires and other dangers.
“We are moving forward. Moving carefully and everyone who returns to this area must also be very careful,” he said.