Status: 04.04.2022 10:59 am

There are horrible pictures of hundreds of killed civilians going around the world from Ukrainian Butcha. What is known about the massacre? What do Russia and Ukraine say about it? An overview.

What happened, what do the pictures show?

After Russian troops withdrew from the Kiev suburb of Butscha, hundreds of bodies were discovered there. So far, more than 300 lifeless bodies have been recovered, according to Ukrainian media reports.

Eyewitnesses report the targeted killing of civilians by Russian soldiers. Journalists who were on the ground report the same, submitting photo and video footage.

Heaped reports of atrocities in the areas abandoned by the Russian army.

Arnd Henze, WDR, tagesschau 20:00, 4.4.2022

Journalists from the AP news agency in Butscha saw the bodies of at least nine people in civilian clothes, who were apparently killed at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs. AP journalists also saw two bodies wrapped in plastic and tied with duct tape lying in a ditch. A Reuters reporter reported the body of a man on the side of the road with his hands tied behind his back and a gunshot wound to the head. The British BBC reports something similar in a film from Butscha.

There are also reports from several local residents. “People were walking in the street and they were just picked off,” one recounts. “They just shot, no questions asked.” On one street in the small town of once 27,000 people, video footage shows bodies every few yards.

Human Rights Watch published a report on outright executions based on eyewitness accounts. This includes the shooting of a man on March 4 in Butsha, in the early days of the war.

Men tend to the bodies of people lying on a street in Butscha. Photo: REUTERS

Men carry the body of a civilian into a van in Butscha. Photo: AFP

What does Ukraine say?

Ukraine blames Russian troops for the massacre and accuses them of atrocities against civilians. The prosecutor’s office has announced investigations. More than 50 employees of the Prosecutor’s Office and the National Police launched initial investigations.

“This is a hell that must be documented so that the brutes who created it are punished,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova wrote on Facebook. Authorities in Ukraine said they were documenting evidence to prosecute Russian officials for war crimes. To convict them, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors will have to prove a pattern of atrocities against civilians during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Selenskyj calls it genocide and warns that more atrocities could become apparent as Russian troops retake other territories. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calls for tougher sanctions on Russia. The mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, speaks of a genocide in view of the events in Butscha and other suburbs of the capital in an interview with the newspaper Bild.

What does Russia say?

The Defense Ministry in Moscow rejects allegations of atrocities against civilians in the greater Kiev area and denies the killing of civilians by Russian soldiers. “During the period when the settlement was under the control of Russian forces, not a single resident suffered from any acts of violence,” it said in a statement.

Demian von Osten, ARD Moscow, on reactions in Russia to the images from Ukraine.

tagesschau 20:00, 4.4.2022

Russian chief investigator Alexander Bastrykin announces official investigation into the events, which he calls a “provocation” by Ukraine. The investigation was to be launched on the basis that Ukraine had “deliberately spread false information” about Russian forces in Butcha.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the shooting of the dead civilians was “ordered” to pillory Russia and disrupt peace negotiations.

Conflict parties as source

Information on the course of the war, shelling, and casualties from official sources of the Russian and Ukrainian parties to the conflict cannot be independently verified directly in the current situation.

How does the West react?

The images from Butcha caused international horror. Many countries condemned the events, calling them war crimes or demanding that they be investigated as war crimes.

Germany announced tougher sanctions against Russia. “We will decide on further measures in the circle of allies in the coming days,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, himself under pressure for alleged past closeness to Russia, also spoke of “war crimes,” as did Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

Discussion on reactions to Butscha: expulsion of diplomats, gas embargo and arms deliveries

Stephan Stuchlik, ARD Berlin, tagesschau 8:00 p.m., 4.4.2022

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pointed out that the United States had long assumed that serious war crimes were taking place in Ukraine. This, he said, is a “reality that is playing out every day as long as Russia’s brutality against Ukraine continues. Therefore, it must end.”

The EU accuses the Russian army of atrocities. The European Union is assisting Ukraine in documenting war crimes, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell tweeted. He said he was shocked. European Parliament Vice President Nicola Beer called for a “special war crimes tribunal similar to the one used during the Yugoslav wars” against those responsible.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed “profound shock” at the atrocities. “It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability,” the UN chief said, according to the statement.

Human Rights Watch also accuses the Russian army of war crimes such as executions and looting.

What China says


China has not yet commented on the massacre in Butscha. The leadership in Beijing has so far not condemned the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. China offers itself to the outside world as a neutral mediator, but the state media largely follow the Russian line and criticize above all the United States and NATO.

With information from ARD correspondent Bernd Musch-Borowska, NDR, currently at the Polish-Ukrainian border

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