Ukraine says it has regained control of the Kiev region with Moscow's troops retreating from around the capital, as evidence emerges of possible civilian killings in the conflict — which is now in the 39th day.

A satellite image shows the grave site near the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, in Bucha.
A satellite image shows the grave site near the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, in Bucha. (Reuters)

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Satellite images show 45-foot-long trench at grave site in Bucha – Maxar

Satellite images of the Ukrainian town of Bucha show an approximately 45-foot-long trench dug into the grounds of a church where a mass grave has been identified, a private US company has said.

The images, captured on March 31, followed previous imagery from March 10 that show signs of excavation on the grounds of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, Maxar Technologies said. 

Reuters news agency could not immediately verify the images

Global outrage at 'war crimes' after civilians killed in Ukraine

Global outrage at accusations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine mounted as the discovery of mass graves and "executed" civilians near Kiev prompted vows of action at the International Criminal Court.

Britain, France, Germany, the United States, NATO and the United Nations all voiced horror at the reports of civilians being murdered in Bucha, northwest of Kiev.

Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova said 410 civilian bodies were recovered from areas around Kiev recently retaken from Russian forces. 

Ukraine's Zelenskiyy says new Russia sanctions are not enough

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy has said that the West would impose a new package of sanctions on Russia over the killing of civilians in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities, but he said that was not enough of a punishment.

He said that hundreds of people had been killed in Bucha and other cities, including civilians who had been shot.

Russia has denied allegations that it troops killed civilians in Bucha.

One killed, 14 injured in strike on south Ukraine city: governor

One person died and 14 were injured after a Russian strike on the south Ukraine city of Mykolaiv, the local governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.

"On the shelling of the city: 14 people were taken to hospital," Kim said, adding that a 15-year-old was among the injured with wounds of "moderate severity" and will be operated on. "One person died, could not be rescued," Kim said. He added that there are dead and wounded in Ochakiv, a city on the Black Sea.

Kiev has said that Russia has redirected its offensive to focus on the south and east of Ukraine after retreating from areas around the capital.

Red Cross trying to reach civilians trapped in besieged Mariupol

The International Red Cross said one of its teams was trying to reach Ukraine's city of Mariupol, where thousands of people are trapped, facing daily Russian bombardment. 

The United Nations also said that since the Russian attack on February 24, 1,417 civilians have been killed and 2,038 injured in Ukraine, but the real toll is much higher.

International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson Sam Smith told Anadolu Agency: "An ICRC team left Zaporizhzhia (northwest of Mariupol) on Saturday."

Ukraine says Russia shells Kharkiv, reports casualties

Russian forces shelled Ukraine's second city Kharkiv, killing and injuring a number of people, the region's governor said.

"In the evening, the occupiers shelled the Slobidsky district of Kharkiv," Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram.

"Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded among the civilian population. As of this time, there are 23 casualties, including children. The figures are being established."

Zelenskyy accuses Russian forces of committing 'genocide'

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing genocide and attempting to eliminate the "whole nation" of Ukraine, a day after the discovery of mass graves and apparently executed civilians near Kiev.

"This is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people," Zelenskyy told the CBS programme Face the Nation, according to a transcript provided by the network.

"We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities," Zelenskyy said amid a chorus of international outrage over the behaviour of Russian troops in Ukraine.

Russian military denies killing civilians in Bucha

Russia's defence ministry said its forces did not kill civilians in Bucha, a town outside Ukraine's capital Kiev recently retaken by Ukrainian forces from Moscow's troops.

"During the time this settlement was under the control of Russian armed forces, not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions," the ministry said. 

Photo and video of corpses strewn across the streets of Bucha were "another production of the Kiev regime for the Western media," it added. 

US, NATO express shock over civilian killings in Ukraine

US and NATO leaders voiced shock and horror Sunday at new evidence of atrocities against civilians in Ukraine, and warned that Russian troop movements away from Kiev did not signal a withdrawal or end to the violence.

Evidence of possible civilian killings around Kiev has emerged as the Russian army has pulled back from the capital in the face of ferocious resistance from Ukrainian forces.

AFP reporters saw at least 20 bodies, all in civilian clothing, strewn across a single street in the town of Bucha on Friday. One had his hands tied behind his back with a white cloth, and his Ukrainian passport left open beside his body. 

Over half a million people have returned to Ukraine: official

More than half a million people have returned to Ukraine since the start of Russia's offensive in February, the Ukrainian interior ministry said.

"During the past week, 144,000 people left Ukraine and 88,000 arrived. In total... around 537,000 of our compatriots have returned to Ukraine," the ministry said, citing data from the national border service.

US fully backs sending Ukraine weapons, aid

White House chief of staff Ron Klain says the US remains fully committed to providing a full range of economic and military support to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, which he describes as “far from over.” 

Klain credits Ukrainians for fighting off Russian troops in the northern part of Ukraine and says the US and its allies are sending weapons into the country “almost every single day.” 

But he also tells ABC’s “This Week” that there are signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin is redeploying Russian troops to the eastern part of Ukraine. 

Italy party chief wants Russia energy embargo

The head of Italy’s Democratic Party called for a full oil and gas embargo in reaction to images emerging of atrocities against civilians by Russian soldiers retreating from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

“How many #Buca before we move to a full oil and gas Russia embargo,” Enrico Letta wrote on Twitter Sunday. “Time is over.”

Italy gets 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia and officials have said it would take three years to make the transition to other sources. 

Russia pulls back from Ukraine's north

The Ukrainian military said Russian troops have completed their pullback from the country’s north.

The military’s General Staff said that Russian units have withdrawn from areas in the country’s north to neighbouring Belarus, which served as a staging ground for the Russian offensive.

The Ukrainian military said its airborne forces have taken full control of the town of Pripyat just outside the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the section of the border with Belarus. It posted a picture of the Ukrainian soldier putting up the country’s flag with a shelter containing the Chernobyl reactor that exploded in 1986 seen in the background. 

Russia says it hits oil refinery, fuel depots near Ukraine's Odessa

The Russian armed forces hit an oil refinery and fuel depots near the port city of Odessa in southern Ukraine, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

"This morning, an oil refinery and three fuel and lubricants depots providing fuel to the Ukrainian army in the Nikolaev direction were destroyed near Odessa with high -precision sea and air-launched missiles," Igor Konashenkov, a Defence Ministry spokesperson, told journalists.

Blinken: Images of dead in Ukrainian town of Bucha a 'punch in gut'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the sight of multiple civilian bodies strewn along the streets of Bucha in Ukraine is "punch to the gut."

"You can't help but see these images as a punch to the gut," Blinken told CNN a day after horrific footage was widely aired of the town retaken from Russian forces.

"This is the reality of what's going on every single day as long as Russia's brutality against Ukraine continues," Blinken said.

Kremlin hopes peace negotiators can find a deal

Russia will achieve all of the aims of its "special military operation" in Ukraine and hopes that Moscow and Kiev can ultimately sign some sort of peace deal, the Kremlin said, Inferfax news agency reported. 

HRW accuses Russian forces of ‘apparent war crimes’

A leading rights group said it had documented what it described as "apparent war crimes" committed by Russian military forces against civilians in Ukraine.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement saying it had found "several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations" in Russian-controlled regions such as Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kiev.

The statement, published in Warsaw, came one day after dead civilians were found lying scattered through the streets of the Ukrainian country town of Bucha, three days after the Russian army pulled back after a month-long occupation of the area 30 km (20 miles) northwest of Kiev.

Ukraine Mykolaiv Black Sea port hit in rocket attack- Interior Ministry

Several Russian rockets have hit Ukraine's Black Sea port of Mykolaiv, Anton Gerashchenko, an aide to the country's interior ministry, said.

Gerashchenko said in a social media post that local authorities had reported the attack.

Russian forces have attacked Ukraine's southern ports including Odessa, Mykolaiv and Mariupol as they try to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea and establish a land corridor from Russia to Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed in 2014.

Berlin condemns Bucha ‘war crime’, wants more Russia sanctions

Germany condemned the killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha as a "terrible war crime" and called for fresh EU sanctions against Russia.

"This terrible war crime cannot go unanswered," Robert Habeck, vice chancellor and economy minister, told German newspaper Bild the day after the bodies of nearly 300 civilians were found in mass graves after Russian troops withdrew, local Ukrainian officials said.

"I think that a strengthening of sanctions is called for. That's what we are preparing with our EU partners," Habeck added.

Russia will ask for rouble payments for other goods - Kremlin

Russia will ask for rouble payments for other exports and the West's sanctions have accelerated the erosion of confidence in the US dollar and the euro, the Kremlin said.

"I have no doubt that it will in the future be extended to new groups of goods," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of Russia's demand for rouble payments for gas, the RIA news agency reported.

Ukraine: Killing of civilians in Bucha a 'deliberate massacre'

The killing of civilians in the town of Bucha near Kiev was a "deliberate massacre", Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said, after the hasty retreat of Russian forces from the area.

"Bucha massacre was deliberate. Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can. We must stop them and kick them out. I demand new devastating G7 sanctions NOW," Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

In Bucha, the bodies of nearly 300 civilians were found in mass graves after Russian troops withdrew, local officials said.

UK: Alleged attacks on civilians must be probed

Allegations of attacks against civilians must be investigated as "war crimes", Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said, adding that the UK would fully support any such move by the International Criminal Court.

"As Russian troops are forced into retreat, we are seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha," Truss said in a statement, referring to places near Kiev.

"Their indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians during Russia's illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes."

EU chief vows more sanctions after 'atrocities' near Kiev

EU chief Charles Michel has pledged further sanctions on Moscow as he condemned "atrocities" carried out by Russian forces near Ukraine's capital.

"Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kiev liberated region #BuchaMassacre," European Council head Michel tweeted. "EU is assisting Ukraine & NGO's in gathering of necessary evidence for pursuit in international courts."

Michel added that "further EU sanctions & support are on their way".

'Blasts heard' in Russian city of Belgorod near Ukraine border

Two blasts have been heard in the Russian city of Belgorod near the border with Ukraine, two witnesses have told Reuters news agency, days after Russian authorities accused Ukrainian forces of striking a fuel depot there.

The cause of Sunday's blasts was not immediately clear. A witness said the blasts were so powerful that they rattled the windows of her home. An official from the region said there had been a blast in Tomarovka village, but that no one was hurt.

The blasts come days after Russia's defence ministry said two Ukrainian helicopters struck a fuel depot in the city, some 35 kilometres from the border with Ukraine, after entering Russia at extremely low altitude in the early hours of Friday.

Ukraine says Russian forces have 'abducted' 11 mayors

Eleven local community leaders in Ukraine have been kidnapped by Russian forces, deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

"Up to today, 11 heads of local communities in the regions of Kiev, Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Donetsk are in captivity," she said in a video message posted on her Telegram account.

"We are informing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN, all possible organisations, just like for the other civilians who have disappeared." 

Ukraine March grain exports fall sharply vs Feb

Ukrainian grain exports in March have been four times less than February levels, due to Russia's attacks, the economy ministry has said.

March grain shipments overseas included 1.1 million tonnes of corn, 309,000 tonnes of wheat, and 118,000 tonnes of sunoil, the ministry added.

Ukraine was the world's fourth-largest grain exporter in the 2020/21 season, according to International Grains Council data, with most of its commodities shipped out via the Black Sea. 

But with the conflict raging along much of the coast, traders are being forced to transport more grain by rail.

Russian missiles strike oil plant in Odessa

The Russian military has said it struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots around the strategic Black Sea port of Odessa. No casualties were reported.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Major general Igor Konashenkov said Russian ships and aircraft fired missiles on Sunday to strike the facilities, which he said were used to provide fuel to Ukrainian troops near Mykolaiv.

Konashenkov also said Russian strikes destroyed ammunition depots in Kostiantynivka and Khresyshche.

Governor: Ukraine Kremenchug refiner destroyed after attack

Ukraine's Kremenchug oil refinery has been completely destroyed after a Russian attack, Dmytro Lunin, governor of the Poltava region, has said on television.

"The fire at the refinery has been extinguished but the facility has been completely destroyed and can no longer function," Lunin said.

Russia: Peace talks not ready for leaders' meeting

Russia has said peace talks with Ukraine have not progressed enough for a leaders' meeting and that Moscow's position on the status of Crimea and Donbass remain unchanged.

Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said Ukraine had agreed it would be neutral, not have nuclear weapons, not join a military bloc and refuse to host military bases.

On the questions of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and two Russian-backed rebel regions in Donbass that President Vladimir Putin recognised as independent in February, Medinsky indicated there had been no progress.

"The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top," he said on Telegram. "I repeat again and again: Russia's position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED."

Evacuation attempts of people from Mariupol to continue

Work on evacuating people with the help of Red Cross from Mariupol will continue on Sunday with buses attempting to come close to the besieged city, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

"Seven buses will try to get closer to Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross," Vereshchuk said in an online video posting.

There will be 17 buses prepared to evacuate people from Mariupol and Berdyansk, she said.

Lawmakers seek punishment for implementation of sanctions on Russian territory

Russian lawmakers will propose measures seeking punishment for the implementation of sanctions on Russia's territory, a senior lawmaker has said.

"My colleagues from the State Duma and I have finished the work and on Monday we will introduce amendments to the Criminal Code for the implementation of restrictive measures (sanctions) imposed by foreign states on the territory of the Russian Federation," Andrei Klishas wrote on his Telegram channel.

Klishas did not specify how Russia would identify or punish those who implemented sanctions.

Russia to export food to friendly countries in roubles or their currencies

Russia will only export food and crops to "friendly countries" in roubles or in their national currencies, RIA news agency has cited Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of the country's Security Council, as saying.

Poland would like more US troops in Europe: Ruling party boss

Poland would welcome a 50 percent increase in the number of US troops in Europe, the leader of the country's ruling party has said, as Warsaw calls for tougher action against Moscow.

"Poland would be pleased if the Americans increased their presence in Europe from the current 100,000 soldiers up to 150,000 in the future due to Russia's increasing aggressiveness," Jaroslaw Kaczynski told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

"Of these, 75,000 soldiers should be stationed on the eastern flank; ie, on the border with Russia; 50,000 soldiers in the Baltic states and Poland," he said in the interview, which was also published on the website of Poland's ruling party Law and Justice.

Ukraine: Explosions rock Odessa

Air strikes have rocked Ukraine's strategic Black Sea port Odessa in the southwest. The blasts sent up at least three columns of black smoke. The attack comes as Russian forces appeared to be withdrawing from the country's north.

"Odessa was attacked from the air," Anton Herashchenko, adviser to the interior minister, wrote on his Telegram account. "Fires were reported...Some of the missiles were shot down by air defence." The historic city of around one million people is Ukraine's largest Black Sea port.

On Friday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Russia was consolidating and preparing "powerful strikes" in the south, joining a chorus of Western assessments that Moscow's troops were regrouping.

UK: Russia preventing Ukraine resupply by Black Sea

Russian naval forces have continued to blockade the Ukrainian coast on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, preventing resupply by sea, British military intelligence has said.

Russia retains the capability to attempt an amphibious landing, but such an operation is likely to be increasingly high risk due to the time Ukrainian forces have had to prepare, the Ministry of Defence tweeted. 

“Mines within the Black Sea pose a serious risk to maritime activity,” it said. 

The report said the origin of the mines was unclear and disputed but that they were almost certainly the result of Russian naval activity in the area, demonstrating how its attacks on Ukraine is affecting neutral and civilian interests.

Lithuanian documentary film director feared dead

Lithuanian film director Mantas Kvedaravicius has been killed in Ukraine's Mariupol, where he had long documented the besieged port city, according to colleagues and a media report.

"Lithuanian documentary writer Mantas Kvedaravicius, was murdered today (Saturday) in Mariupol, with a camera in his hands, in this.... war of evil," Russian film director Vitaly Mansky said on Facebook.

Kvedaravicius was known for his conflict-zone documentary "Mariupolis". It is the portrait of a Ukrainian city under siege with a strong will to live. The strategic port is in the breakaway region of Donetsk, neighbouring Russia, where pro-Russian fighters have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.

Humanitarian corridor created in Mariupol — Russia

Moscow decided to open another humanitarian corridor in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol to evacuate civilians and foreign nationals at the request of Türkiye’s president, the Russian Defense Ministry has said.

Moscow will provide full assistance in the evacuation of civilians and foreign citizens in accordance with Recep Tayyip Erdogan's request to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the ministry.

The statement said that on April 3 at 00:00 Moscow time, the humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to Berdyansk was opened and strict compliance with the "regime of silence" on the way of movement was guaranteed. The regime of silence is the name given to the cease-fire for a certain period in certain areas to evacuate civilians.

Poland accuses Berlin, Paris of being close to Moscow

Poland's deputy prime minister has accused France and Germany of being too close to Russia in an interview published on Sunday, as he condemned Berlin's behaviour towards Moscow before the Ukraine offensive.

"Germany, like France, has a strong bias in Moscow's favour," Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is also the leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, told German daily Die Welt in an interview.

Kaczynski saved his strongest words for Berlin. "Over the years, the German government did not want to see what Russia was doing under the leadership of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and we see the result today," Kaczynski said.

Civilians found dead as Russia withdraws from Kiev

Civilians in Ukraine’s Bucha province, near the national capital of Kiev, were found dead with their hands tied, Mikhail Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

“Bucha, Kiev region. The bodies of people with tied hands, who were shot dead by Russian soldiers lie in the streets,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

“These people were not in the military. They had no weapons. They posed no threat. How many more such cases are happening right now in the occupied territories?” he added.

For live updates from Saturday (April 2), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies