Ukraine gathered his dead and gathered evidence of them Russian Atrocities erupted in the devastated outskirts of Kyiv as the two sides prepared on Wednesday for a battle by Moscow forces that could culminate in a bid to seize the country’s industrial east.
In retaliation for what they described as war crimes, the US and its Western allies imposed new sanctions on the Kremlin, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops were trying to advance deep into Ukraine to the east, but the Ukrainian army held them back.
“The fate of our country and our people is being decided. We know what we are fighting for. And we will do everything to win,” said Zelensky.
Ukrainian officials have stepped up calls for civilians to evacuate west from towns near the frontline ahead of the expected Russian offensive, and some essential services have been removed. Local authorities in Sloviansk said post offices and pension facilities would be cleared and bank branches in the city would be closed.
A Western official said it would take Russia up to a month to regroup for a major push against eastern Ukraine. Nearly a quarter of its tactical battalion groups in the country have been “disabled” and have either withdrawn or combined with other units, the official said.
In the scarred and silent streets of Bucha and other towns around Ukraine’s capital, where Russian forces have retreated in recent days, investigators tried to document what appeared to be widespread killings of civilians. Some had apparently been shot at close range, while others were found with their hands tied or their flesh burned.
At a cemetery in Bucha, workers began loading more than 60 bodies, believed to have been collected over the past day, into a food delivery van for transport to a facility for further examination. Some of the black body bags were not fully closed. A look showed the bloodied face of a young adult. Another revealed a pair of white sneakers.
Days after the Russian retreat, more bodies had to be collected in Bucha. From time to time there was the muffled roar of workers clearing the town of mines and other unexploded ordnance.
Russian artillery bombarded Ukrainian cities as Ukraine’s president urged the West to act decisively and impose new, tougher restrictions on trade with Russia in response to civilian killings that were widely condemned as war crimes.
Now watch LIVE coverage of the Dáil and Seanad Éireann joint session as Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses both houses – watch on Twitter, Facebook and the #OireachtasTV channel #See for yourselfhttps://t.co/q7cBqPIhjo https://t.co/tIhXupzTv9
— Houses of the Oireachtas – Tithe an Oireachtais (@OireachtasNews) April 6, 2022
The United States announced new sanctions, including against the daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, days after grim images emerged of the bodies of civilians being shot at close range in the city of Bucha as it was being retaken by Russian forces.
Pope Francis branded the killings a “massacre” without assigning blame, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the West must do more to contain Russia.
“I cannot tolerate indecisiveness after everything Russian troops have done,” Zelenskyy said via video link to Irish politicians in an address to the Oireachtas.
Some Western leaders “still believe that war and war crimes are not as terrible as financial loss,” he added.
Western politicians have denounced the killings in Bucha as a war crime, and Ukrainian officials say a mass grave at a church there contained between 150 and 300 bodies. Satellite images taken weeks ago in the city north of the capital Kyiv show bodies of civilians on a street.
Moscow denied attacking civilians there or anywhere else. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said images of dead bodies in Bucha were staged to justify further sanctions against Moscow and derail peace talks with Kyiv.
Russia describes its February 24 invasion as a “military special operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “denazifying” Ukraine. Ukraine and Western governments reject this as a false pretext to invade a democratic country.
The war has killed thousands, reduced entire cities to rubble and left a quarter of Ukraine’s population homeless. Heading into week seven, the risk that it could escalate into a larger conflict remains a concern.
Amid those fears, the EU executive said it had begun a stockpiling operation to bolster its defenses against chemical, nuclear and biological threats.
A siege of Mariupol’s southern port continued Wednesday, trapping tens of thousands of residents without food, water or electricity.
“The humanitarian situation in the city is deteriorating,” British military intelligence said, while Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said people trying to flee would have to use their own vehicles.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said its team successfully led a convoy of buses and private cars carrying more than 500 residents from Mariupol to nearby Zaporizhzhia after the civilians fled on their own.
Vereshchuk said authorities would attempt to evacuate civilians trapped elsewhere through 11 humanitarian corridors.
The United States believes Russia has completed its withdrawal from the Kyiv area and is refitting its troops for an expected redeployment, a senior US defense official said.
Ukrainian military said Russian forces continued preparations for an offensive in the east to take full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The focus of current hostilities was said to be Donetsk, where Russian troops were still attempting to capture all of Mariupol.
Ten high-rise buildings in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk were on fire after Russian shelling on Wednesday, the region’s governor said in an online post.
The United States announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russian banks and Kremlin officials, banning Americans from investing in Russia.
The sanctions hit Russia’s Sberbank, which holds a third of all Russia’s banking assets, and Alfabank, the country’s fourth-largest financial institution, US officials said. However, energy transactions are exempt from the latest measures, officials said.
The United States is also sanctioning Putin’s two adult daughters, the wife and daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and members of Russia’s Security Council.
“I have made it clear that Russia will pay a heavy and immediate price for its atrocities in Bucha,” President Joe Biden said on Twitter.
The UK also froze Sberbank’s assets and said it would ban imports of Russian coal by the end of the year.
The head of the European Commission signaled further steps – including scrutiny of energy imports – on top of the sanctions the bloc announced on Tuesday.
But a rift in a united EU front emerged when Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his government was ready to meet Russia’s demand to pay for Russian gas in rubles.
Russia supplies around 40 percent of the EU’s natural gas consumption. The EU also gets a third of its oil imports from Russia, about $700 million a day.
Moscow last week demanded payments for gas in rubles from countries it deemed “unfriendly”, but Brussels said those with euro or dollar contracts should comply.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, which relies on Russian gas for much of its energy needs, warned that while it supports ending Russian energy imports as soon as possible, it cannot do so overnight.
Russia came close to a possible default on its international debt as it paid dollar bondholders in rubles and said it would continue to do so as long as its foreign exchange reserves were blocked by sanctions.
Hungary’s Orban said he spoke to Putin and asked him to announce an immediate ceasefire.
He said he invited Putin to Hungary for talks with the Ukrainian and French presidents, as well as the German chancellor. Putin’s response was “positive,” he said, but added that the Russian leader said there would be conditions.
https://www.independent.ie/news/russian-bombardment-continues-against-ukrainian-cities-as-zelensky-urges-ireland-to-exert-more-pressure-in-address-to-politicians-41525345.html Russian bombing of Ukrainian cities continues as Zelenskyy urges Ireland to put more pressure on politicians