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The Murder of Ukrainian Civilians Could Bring More Sanctions onto Russia

Police and other investigators toured the empty streets of devastated towns around Ukraine’s capital, recording numerous murders of unarmed people and other suspected Russian war crimes that may result in stiffer Western penalties as early as Wednesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has maintained his call for Russian troops and their leaders to face war crimes charges, while also warning that they are reorganizing for new attacks on Ukraine’s east and south.

The territory’s governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, stated on the messaging app Telegram early Wednesday that Russian soldiers targeted a gasoline station and a plant in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region overnight. The exact number of victims is unknown.

“It was a frightening and stressful night.” From the air, the enemy struck our region, hitting the oil depot and one of the factories. The gasoline depot at the oil station was destroyed. “At the facility, rescuers are still putting out the flames,” Reznichenko stated.

According to the governor of the eastern Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, shelling of Rubizhne city on Tuesday killed one person and injured five others.

A vehicle struck the gate of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest early Wednesday, police said, exploding into flames and killing the driver. There was no early word on a probable motivation or any pertinent information.

Russian forces are continuing preparing for an operation in Ukraine’s east, according to Ukraine’s military, with the goal of “establishing total control over the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.” Since 2014, parts of the two territories have been under the authority of Russia-backed separatists, and Moscow recognizes them as separate republics.

So far, Ukrainian forces have held back Russian soldiers attempting to march east, but they are outmanned in terms of both personnel and equipment, according to Zelenskyy, who spoke to his country by video late Tuesday.

“But we don’t have a choice – our land’s and people’s fates are being chosen,” he continued. “We know what we’re up against. And we’ll go to any length to win.”

A global uproar has erupted in recent days over what appear to be deliberate deaths of civilians in Bucha and other towns before Russian soldiers withdrew from Kyiv’s environs. As a result of the evidence, Western countries have expelled a large number of Moscow’s diplomats and proposed further penalties.

The US is expected to announce more sanctions on Wednesday, in coordination with the European Union and the Group of Seven major economies, including a ban on all new investment in Russia, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the upcoming announcement.

In addition, the EU’s executive branch recommended a ban on Russian coal imports worth an estimated 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) annually. It would be the first time the 27-nation EU has imposed sanctions on the country’s wealthy oil sector as a result of the conflict.

Zelenskyy said residents in cities near Kyiv were tortured, shot in the back of the head, thrown down wells, blown up with explosives in their flats, and crushed to death by tanks while in automobiles when speaking before the United Nations Security Council by video on Tuesday.

Those who carried out the executions and those who issued the instructions “must be brought to trial quickly for war crimes” before a tribunal comparable to the one set up after World War II in Nuremberg, he added.

Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, stated “not a single local person” was harmed when Bucha was under Russian control, and that video footage showing bodies in the streets was “a crude fabrication” manufactured by the Ukrainians.

He explained, “You just saw what they showed you.” “It’s only Western dilettantes who would fall for this.”

Survivors of the month-long Russian takeover showed investigators bodies of townsfolk purportedly shot by Russian forces while Zelenskyy spoke to the diplomats.

Dogs roamed the streets of Bucha, which were still mostly deserted, among damaged houses and burning military vehicles. Before retrieving some of the bodies, officials took photographs of them.

Survivors of the occupation, many of whom were past middle age, went past smoldering tanks and broken window glass, carrying small sacks of food and other humanitarian goods. Homes that were found to be in good condition were checked by Red Cross employees.

Associated Press journalists in Bucha counted dozens of bodies dressed in civilian clothing and spoke with Ukrainians who claimed to have witnessed crimes. Maxar Technologies’ high-resolution satellite images also revealed that several of the dead had been left out in the open for weeks while Russian soldiers were in town.

As seen by AP journalists in Bucha, the deceased included a mound of six burnt remains. Who they were and how they died were unknown. According to Andrii Nebytov, the chief of police in the Kyiv area, one of the bodies was most likely that of a youngster.

Many of the bodies observed by AP journalists looked to have been shot at close range, with their hands bound and their skin scorched.

At least 90 incidences throughout the conflict that appear to contravene international law have been documented by the Associated Press and the PBS documentary “Frontline.” The initiative War Crimes Watch Ukraine is investigating both apparent targeted and indiscriminate strikes.

Images from Bucha indicated “not the random act of a renegade unit,” but “a premeditated effort to kill, torture, rape, and commit crimes,” according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He described the atrocity stories as “more than plausible.”

The International Criminal Court’s head prosecutor in The Hague started an inquiry into alleged war crimes in Ukraine a month ago.

In Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv, a 25-year-old man named Dmitriy Yevtushkov rummaged through the ruins of apartment buildings and discovered just a picture book from his family’s house.

A pedestrian in the besieged southern city of Mykolaiv paused for a moment to admire the beautiful petals of a destroyed flower stand, which lay among bloodstains, the aftermath of a Russian shell that killed nine people in the city’s heart. The onlooker drew a cross in the air and continued on his way.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that Russia’s military is reorganizing in preparation for a “crucial phase” of the war in eastern and southern Ukraine. “Moscow’s goals in Ukraine are not going away,” Stoltenberg stated.

While both Ukrainian and Russian officials expressed optimism during their most recent round of negotiations a week ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow will not accept a Ukrainian demand for a quick army withdrawal followed by a vote on the accord in Ukraine.

Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper is a global reporter for TheOptic, focusing on bringing insights and developments for global breaking news daily. With almost seven years of experience covering topics from all over the world, Brian strives to make sure you stay up-to-date with what's going on in the world.
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