Russia fired new bombs on the anniversary of the capture of the occupied city by Ukraine
Russia used its long-range arsenal to bombard several areas Ukraine on Friday, killing at least two civilians and damaging homes as Ukrainians celebrated the anniversary of the liberation of Bucha from a brutal occupation by Kremlin forces.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the city of Bucha near Kiev is a symbol of the atrocities committed by the Russian military since the start of their full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
“We will not let this be forgotten,” Zelensky said at an official ceremony in Bucha, promising to punish those who committed atrocities in the city. “Human dignity will not let this be forgotten. On the streets of Bucha, the world saw Russian evil. Evil exposed.”
Coincident with the Bucha celebrations, the Kremlin-allied Belarusian president has upped the ante in the 13-month war, saying his country could host Russian strategic nuclear weapons, along with part of Moscow’s tactical nuclear arsenal.
Earlier this week, Moscow said it planned to deploy comparatively short-range, low-yield tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. Strategic nuclear weapons such as missile warheads will pose a greater threat.
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Zelensky devoted his attention to the official ceremony in Bucha, where he was joined by the President of the Republic of Moldova and the prime ministers of Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Kremlin forces occupied Bucha weeks after invading Ukraine and remained there for about a month. When the Ukrainian troops retook the city, they saw horrifying sights: the bodies of women, young and old men in civilian clothes, lying on the street where they had fallen, or in courtyards and houses.
Other bodies were found in a mass grave. Over the weeks and months, hundreds of bodies were found, including several children.
Russian soldiers in intercepted phone calls called it a “cleansing operation” — a purge, according to an Associated Press investigation and the PBS series Frontline.
Similar organized brutality, used by Russian troops in past conflicts, especially in Chechnya, was later repeated in Russian-occupied territories throughout Ukraine.
Zelensky presented medals to soldiers, police officers, doctors, teachers and emergency services in Bucha, as well as the families of two soldiers who died defending the Kyiv region.
“Ukrainian people, you have stopped the greatest anti-human force of our time,” he said. “You have stopped a force that has no respect and wants to destroy everything that gives meaning to human life.”
According to Zelensky, the Ukrainian authorities recorded more than 1,400 dead civilians in the Buchansk region, including 37 children.
More than 175 people were found in mass graves and alleged torture chambers, Zelenskiy said. Ukraine and other countriesThe United States, among other things, demanded that Russia be held accountable for war crimes.
Prosecutor General Andrey Kostin said on Friday that many of the dead civilians were tortured. Almost 100 Russian servicemen are suspected of war crimes, he said on his Telegram channel, 35 of them have been charged.
Two Russian servicemen have already been sentenced by a Ukrainian court to 12 years in prison for illegally detaining civilians and looting.
“I am convinced that all these crimes are not accidental. This is part of Russia’s planned strategy aimed at destroying Ukraine as a state and Ukrainians as a nation,” Kostin said.
In Geneva, the UN human rights chief said his office had so far confirmed the deaths of more than 8,400 civilians in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, a figure believed to be far from the true number of casualties.
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Volker Türk told the UN Human Rights Council that “serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have become shockingly commonplace” under the Russian invasion.
In addition to stating the possible presence of Russian strategic nuclear weapons in his country, the Belarusian president also unexpectedly called for a ceasefire in Ukraine, without mentioning how the two events could be connected.
A truce, Lukashenka said in his address to the nation in Minsk on Friday, should be declared without any preconditions and all movement of troops and weapons should be stopped.
“We need to stop now before the escalation starts,” Lukashenko said, adding that Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive with Western weapons would lead to “an irreversible escalation of the conflict.”
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded that Russia must keep fighting, saying Ukraine had backed out of any talks under pressure from its Western allies.
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Peskov also dismissed words from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that the European Union views the possibility of sending peacekeeping forces to Ukraine as “extremely dangerous.”
Russia continues to bombard Ukraine with war for the second year.
In addition to killing at least two civilians in Ukraine, 14 other civilians were wounded early Friday morning. Russia launched rocketsshells, exploding drones and planning bombs, the Office of the President of Ukraine reported.
Two Russian rockets hit the city of Kramatorsk in the east of the Donetsk region, damaging eight residential buildings. In the Donetsk region, as a result of shelling, one civilian was killed, five were injured.
Nine Russian rockets hit Kharkiv, damaging houses, roads, gas stations and a prison. The Russians also used exploding drones to attack the Kharkiv region.
Russian forces also shelled the southern city of Kherson, killing one resident and injuring two. Planning bombs hit the village of Lvov, Kherson region, damaging about 10 houses.
The shelling also hit the city of Zaporozhye and its environs, causing large fires.