Ukrainian leaders predict more gruesome discoveries ahead

CHERNIHIV, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine’s leaders have predicted more gruesome searches in the coming days as Russian forces withdrew, leaving behind wrecked buildings, streets laden with destroyed cars and rising civilian casualties. Which was condemned from all over the world.

Kremlin forces ravaged the northern city of Chernihiv as part of their attempt to sweep south towards the capital before retreating. Following this, dozens of people lined up to get bread, diapers and medicine from a van parked outside a broken school that now serves as an aid-distribution point.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba warned on Thursday that the country remains vulnerable, despite a recent Russian withdrawal, and urged NATO and other sympathetic countries for weapons to help counter a possible attack in the east. can get help. Coalition nations agreed to increase the supply of weapons, based on reports that Russian forces committed atrocities in the areas around the capital.

The mayor of Buka, near Kyiv, said investigators had found at least three sites of mass shootings of civilians during the Russian occupation. Most of the victims died of gunshots, not shelling, he said, and some corpses with their hands tied were “thrown like firewood” in recently discovered mass graves, including at a children’s camp is included.

Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said the death toll was 320 as of Wednesday, but he expects the number to rise as more bodies are found in his city, which once had a population of 50,000. Now only 3,700 are left, he said.

In his nightly address, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested that Buka’s horrors may be only the beginning. In the northern town of Borodienka, just 30 kilometers northwest of Buka, Zelensky warned of even more casualties, saying “it’s much more dire there.”

Ukrainian authorities said earlier this week that the bodies of 410 civilians had been found in towns around the capital. Volunteers spent several days collecting the corpses, and more were picked up in Buka on Thursday.

In the port city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian authorities expected to find something very similar. “Same cruelty. Same terrible crime,” said Zelensky.

Ukrainian and several Western leaders have blamed the massacre on Moscow soldiers, and the weekly Der Spiegel reported that Germany’s foreign intelligence had intercepted radio messages discussing civilian killings among Russian soldiers. Russia falsely claimed that the scenes were staged in Buka.

In the 6-week-old war, Russian forces failed to take Ukraine’s capital quickly, in what Westerners said was Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s initial aim to oust the Ukrainian government. In the wake of that setback and heavy losses, Russia shifted its focus to the Donbass, a mostly Russian-speaking, industrialized region in eastern Ukraine where Moscow-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years.

On Thursday, as Russian forces began shelling his village in the southern Mykolaiv region, 52-year-old Sergei Dubovyenko, accompanied by his wife and mother-in-law in their little blue Lada, headed north to Bashtanka, where they found temporary shelter in a church. ,

“They started destroying houses and everything” in Pavlo-Marianovka, he said. “Then tanks appeared from the forest. We thought that there would be shelling again in the morning, so I decided to leave.”

Hundreds of people are fleeing villages in the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions that are either under attack or held by the Russian military.

Tatiana Vizhvik, 50, fled Chernobyevka in the Kherson region with her son, daughter-in-law and six grandchildren.

When the Russian attack began, they went to the basement of an apartment building and spent five nights there. “We had nothing to eat. We did not have drinking water,” said Vijavik. “We were afraid to go out. Then some volunteers started helping us.”

She said they did not know whether their home survived the fire because they were too afraid to investigate before leaving the city. They hope to reach security in the Czech Republic.

Marina Morozova and her husband fled to Kherson, the first major city to fall under the Russians.

“They are waiting for a big fight. We saw shells which did not explode. It was terrible,” she said.

Morozova, 69, said people only get news from Russian television and radio. She said the Russians provided humanitarian aid so they could film the distribution.

Concerned to move away from areas where Russian troops had reached, the couple and others boarded a van that would take them west. Some will try to leave the country, while others will remain in quieter parts of Ukraine.

The United Nations estimates that the war has displaced at least 6.5 million people within the country.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said more than 4 million people have left Ukraine since Russia launched an invasion on February 24 and triggered Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. According to UNHCR and UN Children’s Agency, UNICEF, half of the refugees are children.

The International Organization for Migration, which tracks not only refugees but everyone arriving from their homes, estimated that more than 12 million people are trapped in Ukraine’s areas under attack.

The UN humanitarian chief told The Associated Press on Thursday he was “not optimistic” about achieving a ceasefire after meeting with officials in Kyiv and Moscow this week, explaining the lack of trust on both sides for each other. Underlining. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke hours after accusing Ukraine of backtracking on proposals made on Crimea and the military situation in Ukraine.

It is unclear how long it will take to redeploy Russian forces, and Ukrainian officials have urged people in the east of the country to leave before fighting intensifies.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said that Ukrainian and Russian officials have agreed on Thursday to create routes for the evacuation of civilians from several areas of the Donbass.

In addition to prompting NATO countries to send more weapons, revelations about possible war crimes prompted Western nations to increase sanctions, and the Group of Seven major world powers warned that unless Russian troops could attack Ukraine. Until then, they will continue to strengthen the measures.

The US Congress on Thursday voted to suspend normal trade ties with Russia and impose sanctions on its oil imports, while the European Union approved new measures to punish, including a ban on coal imports. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the world organisation’s leading human rights body.

US President Joe Biden said the UN vote demonstrated how “Putin’s war has made Russia an international pariah.” He called the images coming from Buka “terrible”.

“Signs of people being raped, tortured, hanged – in some cases desecrating their bodies – are a disgrace to our common humanity,” Biden said.

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Shrek reported from Kyiv, Ukraine. Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

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