Ukraine has accused Russia of carrying out a "deliberate massacre" in Bucha, a town near Kyiv. Moscow denies the charges and calls for an investigation led by the UN.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry published several photos and videos alleging to show the aftermath of crimes committed by Russian forces. The Washington Post claims to have verified a video showing nine dead bodies, including a child.
The Times published an account by a member of the Ukrainian territory defense force, Sergeiy Torovik. "We found 18 bodies in there," he said. "They had been torturing people. Some of them had their ears cut off. Others had teeth pulled out. There were kids like 14, 16 years old, some adults. They just took the bodies away yesterday."
Ukraine’s first levied the allegations against Russia days after Russian forces withdrew from the area. Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk confirmed to the media that Russian troops had exited the area on March 31. Russia has responded by denying the charges and highlighting mayor Fedoruk’s statement.
"Moreover, on March 31 the mayor of Bucha, Anatoly Fedoruk, confirmed in his video address that there was no Russian military in the town, but did not even mention any local residents laying shot in the streets with their hands tied," the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The response from Moscow also suggested that the massacres happened after Russian forces exited the area.
"It’s particularity concerning that all the bodies of people whose images were published by the Kyiv regime, after at least four days, have not stiffened, do not have characteristic cadaveric spots, and have fresh blood in their wounds," The defense ministry statement continued.
After Russian forces exited the city, some members of the Azov Battalion were photographed by Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times in Bucha. Azov is an extremist, neo-Nazi militia incorporated into Ukraine’s military.
While the photos and videos published by Ukraine appear to show war crimes, it is unclear who committed the offenses and when. Several Western countries responded by immediately condemning Russia. Moscow has called for an international investigation carried out by the UN. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres separately called for his organization to carry out a probe into the allegations. “It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability,” he said.