Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that almost a dozen Russian soldiers have been charged for crimes committed against civilians in the town of Bucha, a horror that was documented in photos and videos taken after the Russian military withdrew.
In his latest address, Zelenskyy said the first 10 soldiers have “received the status of suspects” for engaging in what a growing number of leaders are calling war crimes in the Kyiv suburb. The soldiers are from the 64th Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Russian Ground Forces, according to the president.
“Their surnames are known. It is established what they did. We know all the details about them and their actions,” Zelenskyy said. “And we will find everyone – just as we will find all the other Russian thugs who killed and tortured Ukrainians, who tormented our people, who destroyed houses and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
“None of these bastards will avoid responsibility,” he continued. “However, some of them may not survive until trial and fair punishment. But for one reason only – this Russian brigade was relocated to the Kharkiv region. There, they will get retribution from our military.”
Russian forces withdrew from Bucha after at least a month of occupation, leaving behind massive bloodshed. Civilians’ bodies were left on the streets, some charred and some bound by hands and legs. Many of the victims were shot execution-style, particularly men. Pets were also killed and left on the street.
Ukraine experienced similar horrors in other towns, like Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Irpin. But the documentation of the terror and death in Bucha shocked the world into coming to terms with the level of violence Russia has perpetrated against civilians.
Key players in the United Nations Security Council came together on Wednesday to encourage investigations into the atrocities. The informal meeting included the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry, Ukraine’s top prosecutor, and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.
Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova has opened over 8,000 investigations into alleged violations of the laws and customs of war, saying “Russia’s actions amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes” and that the pattern “resembles the crime of genocide.”
France’s deputy U.N. ambassador and a co-sponsor of the meeting, Nathalie Broadhurst, said the images of the atrocities in Bucha and other places in Ukraine after Russian forces withdrew “are unbearable” and may amount to war crimes. The U.S. has already concluded that Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine.
Russia has denied responsibility for any atrocities, repeatedly claiming that its soldiers are simply rooting out neo-Nazis in the smaller country.
“The investigation into the crimes committed by the Russian military against our people is underway,” Zelenskyy said. “Ukraine’s position is absolutely clear – every Russian criminal must be and will be brought to justice. Whoever they are and wherever they hide, we will find them all and make them bear responsibility.”