Russian troops prevented Ukrainian civilians from rescuing people trapped under rubble in a heavily shelled town near kyiv, residents said.
Several witnesses in the recently recaptured town of Borodyanka, northwest of the capital, said Russian occupation soldiers prevented them from digging up the wounded and dead.
Local police said hundreds of people, who had huddled together in basements to protect against Russian strikes, are most likely still buried under the wreckage.
“We knew there were people down there from the first day after the strike,” said a resident named Maria. the bbc.
“But they wouldn’t let us dig them up. My soul hurts – I knew them all,” she added.
Since the withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Borodianka, Ukrainian authorities have suggested that the scale of destruction there is worse than that of nearby Bucha, where a mass grave was discovered last week.
Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor, recently said the civilian death toll in Borodyanka was likely higher than in Bucha, a suburb where more than 300 people were believed to have been killed.
Some of Bucha’s victims were found with gunshot wounds and their hands tied behind their backs, sparking international outrage and calls for broader sanctions against Russia.
“I will never forget the terrifying images of civilians killed in Bucha,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday.
In an address to the UN Security Council via video link on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had committed the “most terrible war crimes” since World War II. Citing the atrocities perpetrated in Bucha, he referred to the massacre of civilians and the rape of women.
“The world can see what the Russian army did in Bucha… But the world has yet to see what they did in other occupied cities and regions of our country,” he said. he declares.
That sentiment echoes the words of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who said Monday that “the horrors we saw in Bucha are just the tip of the iceberg” of Russian crimes.
kyiv said around 5,000 Russian war crimes are currently under investigation.
The Kremlin said Tuesday that Western allegations of war crimes committed at Bucha were a “monstrous forgery” aimed at discrediting the Russian military. Moscow, which calls the conflict a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine, has repeatedly denied deliberately targeting civilians.
World leaders have offered Ukraine to support the task of gathering “evidence” of Russian war crimes.
“What we saw in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit. This is a deliberate campaign to kill, torture, rape, commit atrocities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see,” he added.
Elsewhere, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the actions of Kremlin troops in Bucha “did not look like genocide”.
It comes the day after Mr Johnson called on the Russian people to reject Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, saying the stain on their country’s reputation ‘will only grow bigger and become more indelible’.
In response to the horrors uncovered at Bucha, the EU, UK and US introduce new sanctions designed to make Moscow pay for its aggression.
Sanctions will target officials and their families – with reports suggesting Vladimir Putin’s daughters Maria Vorontsova, 36, and Katerina Tikhonova, 35, will be hit by US and European measures – as well as Russian banks and state-owned companies ,
Meanwhile, Mr Zelensky told the Irish parliament that Russia was using hunger as a ‘weapon’ of war, referring to the targeting of food storage facilities and the mining of fields.
“Why are they doing this? For them, hunger is also a weapon, a weapon against us ordinary people, an instrument of domination,” he said.
He added: “The country that does this does not deserve to be in the circle of civilian countries. He should be held accountable for everything they did on Ukrainian soil.