The European Union said Monday it will hold discussions about a new round of sanctions on Russia, following the reported atrocities in Ukrainian towns that have been occupied by Russian forces.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that the EU “will advance, as a matter of urgency, work on further sanctions against Russia.”
Borrell said, “The massacres in the town of Bucha and other Ukrainian towns will be inscribed in the list of atrocities committed on European soil.”
The sanctions are to be discussed this week. EU foreign ministers will be able to read over them on the sidelines of a NATO meeting later this week or at their regular meeting next week.
Borrell’s statement said the EU will offer assistance to Ukrainian prosecutors who are collecting and preserving “the [evidence] of the war crimes.”
The EU is also in support of the investigations into the crimes by the International Criminal Court and the United Nations human rights commissioner, the statement said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sharply condemned Russia Sunday, accusing it of committing war atrocities in Ukraine as the world saw its first glimpse of the bodies of dead Ukrainians left behind in the streets of the Kyiv suburb of Bucha after Russian troops departed the area.
“You can’t help but feel a punch to the gut,” the top U.S. diplomat told CNN’s “State of the Union” show. “We cannot become numb to this. We cannot normalize this.
Blinken is traveling to Brussels for meetings this week with other NATO foreign ministers, looking to highlight the military alliance’s resolve to hold Russia responsible for continued fighting in Ukraine.
Blinken said the United States would be “looking hard to document” Russian war crimes throughout Ukraine even as Ukraine claims it has retaken control of the north-central region around the capital. Moscow’s troops have pulled back from the Kyiv territory to concentrate new attacks in southern Ukrainian cities along the Black Sea and in the contested Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
Reflecting on the bodies found in the streets, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CBS’s “Face the Nation” show, “Indeed. This is genocide.” He said Ukraine is being “destroyed and exterminated” by Russian forces.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN, “It is a brutality against citizens we have not seen in decades” in Europe. “It is [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin’s responsibility to end the war.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter, “I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine. It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that the EU must be prepared to put more sanctions on Russia in response to the reported killing of civilians.
Ukraine’s chief prosecutor said Sunday that authorities have found 410 bodies in and around Kyiv, during an investigation concerning possible war crimes committed by Russia. Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova, said, however, that witnesses would have to be interviewed later because they are too traumatized by what they saw to speak now, according to a Reuters report.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch’s director of Europe and Central Asia said, in a statement that “The cases we documented amount to unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians.” Hugh Williamson said, “Rape, murder, and other violent acts against people in the Russian forces’ custody should be investigated as war crimes.”
In a surprise videotaped appearance at the Grammys, the annual ceremony in the U.S. honoring the year’s top musicians, President Zelenskyy asked the gathering for help.
“Support us in any way you can. Any, but not silence,” he said. “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos, they sing to the wounded, in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry contended in a statement Sunday that it had not killed civilians in Bucha and claimed that video footage and photographs showing the dead were “yet another provocation” by the West. Russia asked the U.N. Security Council to convene a meeting Monday to discuss the actions of “Ukrainian radicals” in Bucha.
However, Britain, which chairs the Security Council this month, said there would be no meeting Monday and that the issue could be discussed at the meeting on Ukraine already scheduled for Tuesday.
Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse.