As Russian troops pull back from suburbs and villages surrounding Kyiv and other parts of northeastern Ukraine, they are leaving bodies of civilians in the street and in houses, some with their hands bound and gunshot wounds through their skulls, local residents and officials, Ukraine's president, and journalists on the ground reported Sunday.
The apparent massacre in Bucha, outside Kyiv, drew particular condemnation, plus vows of new sanctions on Russia and new evidence that Russia is committing war crimes. Photojournalists captured images of dead civilians, a mass grave at a local church, and bodies half-buried in the yards of houses. This video from The Associated Press doesn't show corpses, but videos of Bucha from The Washington Post and Reuters do.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN the images of dead civilians in Bucha are "a punch to the gut." NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the images show a "brutality against civilians we haven't seen in Europe for decades."
Blinken, European Union leaders, and Britain all said they will respond with new sanctions on Russia, and German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said the EU should discuss banning Russian gas imports, a step Germany has resisted.
And Bucha isn't unique in its horrors. In the images from Bucha, "there are bodies," one man arriving in Lviv from near Kharkiv told BBC News. "In the Kharkiv suburbs, there are only parts of bodies: legs, arms, heads." Survivors from Russia's occupation of Trostyanets told "whispers of rape" and recounted "an old man found toothless, beaten in a ditch, and defecated on," The New York Times reports. Near Sumy, fleeing Russians "were shooting indiscriminately and terrorizing the population," said regional administrator Dmytro Zhyvytsky.
Russia's Defense Minister claimed the images out of Bucha were "fake" and "another production of the Kyiv regime for the Western media," but few outside of Russia (and not everyone inside it) are buying that story.
"Russia's despicable attacks against innocent civilians in Irpin and Bucha are yet more evidence that Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. Russians actions in Ukraine are a "playbook of what war crimes look like," former U.S. war crimes adviser Michael Newton tells BBC News. The Russians can claim whatever they want, but "the evidence here is irrefutable."
Human Rights Watch reported Sunday that it has "documented several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations against civilians in occupied areas of the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv regions of Ukraine."