Russian Retreat Reveals Mass Graves, Evidence Of Possible War Crimes

(Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The Russian army’s weekend retreats from the suburbs of Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine revealed hundreds of dead as well as evidence of possible war crimes like mass rape.

Russia attacked areas surrounding Kyiv in the early days of its invasion, gaining control of an airport and inserting troops into the capital with the goal of capturing and killing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Following the Russian Air Force’s failure to establish control of the skies over Kyiv and major logistics failures, the invading army began withdrawing troops toward the eastern portion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Army regained complete control of “the entire Kyiv region” on April 2, according to a deputy defense minister.

However, the withdrawal of Russian troops from areas they previously controlled revealed mass graves and massacred civilians. Anatoly Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, said Saturday that 280 people had already been buried in mass graves. He added that the Kyiv suburb’s streets were “littered with corpses.”

Bucha’s coroner was forced to order a backhoe to dig a mass grave in the cemetery of a church in the city after the city morgue lost electricity, he told the New York Times. The grave holding dozens of Ukrainians included several who were shot with their hands tied behind their backs, according to the coroner.

Human Rights Watch reported several cases of summary execution, one report of rape that it claims to have verified, and several other reports of sexual violence that it said it could not verify.

“The cases we documented amount to unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” Hugh Williamson, the group’s Europe and Central Asia director said in a statement. “Rape, murder, and other violent acts against people in the Russian forces’ custody should be investigated as war crimes.”

President Joe Biden previously described Russian dictator Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, and the Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into Russia’s actions. The Russian government responded by insulting Biden’s “forgetfulness” and threatening “a decisive and firm rebuff.” (RELATED: US Government Finds Russian Forces Have Committed War Crimes In Ukraine)

Zelenskyy described Russian military actions as a “genocide” during a Sunday appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation.

This is “the elimination of the whole nation of Ukraine, and the people,” he said through a translator. “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 the Russian Federation. 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.”

United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced Monday that the U.S. would seek to have Russia removed from the UN Human Rights Council. Other members of the body include China, Pakistan, and Venezuela.

“One hundred-forty UN members states have already voted to condemn Russia over this unprovoked war and the humanitarian crisis it has unleashed upon the people of Ukraine. My message to those 140 countries who have courageously stood together is simple. The images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us now to match our words with action.”

Russia continued bombing cities in southern Ukraine on Monday, targeting Mykolaiv and the major Black Sea port Odessa.