By Uganda Online Correspondent
Ukrainian prosecutors investigating possible war crimes by Russia have found 410 bodies in towns near Kyiv and 140 of them have been examined.
The announcement was made on television by Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova accusing Russia of genocide.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of carrying out a genocide in his country.
“Indeed, this is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people,” Zelenskyy said in an interview.
“We are the citizens of Ukraine and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of the Russian Federation. This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated,” he added.
Zelenskyy’s remarks came a day after Ukrainian forces moved into the town of Bucha near Kyiv and found what officials and witnesses said were the bodies of civilians killed by Russian forces.
Ukraine accused Russian forces of carrying out a “massacre” in Bucha but Russia’s defense ministry denied the Ukrainian allegations, saying footage and photographs showing bodies in Bucha were “yet another provocation” by the Ukrainian government.
The ministry said that “not a single civilian has faced any violent action by the Russian military“ in Bucha.
The images from Bucha came after Ukraine said on Saturday that its forces had reclaimed control of the whole Kyiv region and liberated towns from Russian troops.
The United Nations said that the discovery of mass graves in Bucha raised serious questions about possible war crimes, and stressed the importance of preserving evidence.
“What is known to date clearly raises serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes and grave violations of international humanitarian law,” the UN rights office said.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sunday that it had found “several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations” in Russian-controlled regions such as Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv.
The UN has said more than 1,300 people, including 64 children, have been killed and 2,017 injured in the country. It believes that the actual figures are “considerably higher”.
On whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would be held accountable, Zelenskyy said others also shared the blame.
“I think all the military commanders, everyone who gave instructions and orders should be punished adequately,” he said.
Asked what would constitute adequate punishment, he said: “When we find people with hands tied behind their back and decapitated … I don’t know what law or what imprisonment term would be adequate for this.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the images of dead Ukrainian civilians found in Bucha were a “punch in the gut” and those responsible must be held accountable.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the killings in Bucha a “brutality” unseen in Europe for decades.
Asked whether Russian forces would need to withdraw to positions before the February 24 invasion, Zelenskyy said: “It should be 100 percent withdrawal of troops to the borders that existed prior to the 24th of February, at least.
“This would make us at least start discussing other questions about the de-occupation,” he added.
Germany’s defense minister Christine Lambrecht said the European Union must discuss banning the import of Russian gas a departure from Berlin’s prior resistance to the idea of an embargo on Russian energy imports.