y a deadline set by the Oireachtas of close of business on Monday, the representatives of 45 states accredited to Ireland had accepted invitations to attend the address in person, although President Zelensky will be joining by video link.
The Russian Embassy was not among the acceptances by the RSVP cut-off point. Nor was there any expression of regret at being unable to attend.
It had been felt that the Embassy might send a low-level apparatchik to watch proceedings, but it now appears the large-scale Orwell Road mission to Ireland will monitor events by watching a live television transmission of the Zelensky speech.
The Taoiseach has meanwhile backed away from any suggestion of ousting the Russian Ambassador, Yuriy Filatov, in light of the barbarism in Bucha whereby bound civilians were apparently executed by retreating Russian forces.
“We must work with our European partners, in my view, in terms of measures against Russia — including diplomatic measures. That has greater impact,” Mr Martin said after speaking of his disgust at discoveries of mass graves in the region northwest of Kyiv.
The most significant impact was when European Union member states, along with the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, jointly brought in “the most unprecedented and severe sanctions ever witnessed before,” he said.
“We will consult with our European Union colleagues in respect of what has emerged in terms of the slaughter of the innocents — the slaughter of civilians, which I condemn in the strongest possible terms.”
Mr Martin said he would “rule nothing out in terms of how we respond” to the latest uncovering of atrocities. Four Russian diplomats expelled by Ireland last week flew home on Sunday, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan revealed on Monday.
“Everyone is repulsed by this,” the Taoiseach said. “We’ve seen this before, and I didn’t think we would see it again,” he said, apparently referring to the acts of genocide committed in World War Two.
“There is no justification for this war,” the Taoiseach said. “From my perspective, the Russian Federation has put itself beyond the Pale.”
Volodymyr Zelensky visited the town of Bucha today where Vladimir Putin’s troops killed civilians in what has been widely condemned as war crimes.
The Ukrainian president was guarded by tight security as he saw the scene of the appalling atrocities. Mr Zelensky spoke to local residents about the horrors inflicted on their community by Mr Putin’s forces.
Earlier he vowed that Mr Putin and his troops who brought such “evil to our land” would be punished for war crimes which have appalled the world.
As more harrowing footage emerged of civilians murdered in Bucha, near Kyiv, world leaders condemned the “whole new world of horror” unleashed by the Russian president and vowed to lead the global response to force him to end his barbaric invasion.
Prosecutor-general on Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova, said the bodies of 410 civilians had been found in towns near the capital, which were recently retaken from Russian troops.
Shocking footage, pictures and reports have emerged of civilians, some with their hands tied behind their backs, with signs of torture and having been shot in the head, as well as mass graves being discovered. The bodies of several women were also found dumped at the side of the road
Tetyana Volodymyrivna, who lives in Bucha, described the horror of finding her murdered husband. “I recognised him by his sneakers, his trousers. He looked mutilated, his body was cold,” she said.
In a late-night address to the Ukrainian nation, Mr Zelensky said “concentrated evil has come to our land”.
He stressed that “every crime of the occupiers on the territory of our state” would be investigated. Vowing that war criminals would be brought to justice, he added: “Everyone guilty of such crimes will be entered in a special Book of Executioners… will be found and punished.”
Speaking to CBS News he described the killings as “genocide” and said the Russian invasion involved “the torture of the whole nation”.
He added: “Indeed, this is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities.”
He emphasised that a special justice administration would be set up, involving international prosecutors and judges, adding: “The world has seen many war crimes. The time has come to make the war crimes committed by Russian troops the last such evil on Earth.”
In a statement this evening the Russian Embassy in Ireland said Russia “categorically rejects” any involvement of their troops in the killing of civilians in Bucha.
It said Russian military units left Bucha on March 30 and claimed “there has not been a single incident of violence against the people of Bucha during their stay in it”.
“The reports of the ‘massacre’ appeared four days later, after Ukrainian forces have moved into Bucha,” it said, adding: “There are numerous independent assessments of these reports, which indicate its staged nature.”
Earlier, a spokesperson the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the team had not been able to reach the besieged city of Mariupol today to evacuate civilians, citing security conditions.
“Due to security conditions, our team has not been able to reach Mariupol today,” spokesperson Jason Straziuso said in emailed comments to Reuters.
Previous attempts by the Red Cross to reach the city over recent days and weeks have not succeeded.
The latest comes as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is keen to send new types of military aid to help Ukraine, Johnson’s spokesman said on Monday, adding that Kyiv had asked for help in defending against Russian ships.
“Certainly the prime minister is keen to look beyond what we have already provided,” the spokesman said, declining to provide specifics.
“We are aware of the requests from the Ukrainians for equipment to defend themselves from ships and we are looking into what we can do.”
And yesterday, Western allies yesterday vowed not to rest until Vladimir Putin is held accountable for war crimes after the discovery of hundreds of dead civilians on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Mass graves with limbs and heads sticking out of the ground were uncovered after Russian soldiers withdrew from Irpin and Bucha, two suburbs north-west of the capital.
Graphic images of the dead left on street corners or front gardens emerged yesterday, shocking the international community into new calls for those behind the atrocities to face justice.
In some cases Ukrainians appeared to have had their arms bound and been murdered, including children. Others who appeared to have been fleeing were beheaded.
Russia’s chief investigator on Monday ordered an official examination of what he called a Ukrainian “provocation” after Kyiv accused the Russian military of massacring civilians in the town of Bucha.
Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Russian Investigative Committee, ordered that a probe be opened on the basis that Ukraine had spread “deliberately false information” about Russian armed forces in Bucha, the committee said in a statement.
The shocking scenes were compared with the Srebrenica massacre, which saw more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims killed during the Bosnian War, and led to claims of genocide.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, called for Russian soldiers’ mothers to be shown the images, adding: “See what b******s you’ve raised. Murderers, looters and butchers.”
He also said his citizens “are being destroyed and exterminated”.
The bodies of 410 civilians found in formerly Russian-occupied territory around Kyiv are being examined by forensic experts as Ukrainian prosecutors prepare war crimes cases.
Mr Johnson promised last night to send specialist police and military investigators to help the International Criminal Court’s investigations with a view to bringing charges in The Hague.
Ukraine yesterday accused Russian forces of carrying out a “massacre” in the town of Bucha.
Russia’s defence ministry denied the allegations, saying footage and photographs showing bodies in Bucha were “yet another provocation” by the Ukrainian government.
“Bucha massacre was deliberate,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the images as “a punch in the gut,” while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent inquiry.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia must pay for “war crimes”.
Mr Johnson said his government would step up sanctions, as well as military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.
“Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, adding that Western allies would agree on further sanctions in the coming days.
Germany’s defence minister Christine Lambrecht said the European Union must discuss banning the import of Russian gas – a departure from Berlin’s prior resistance to the idea of an embargo on Russian energy imports.
Russia requested that the UN Security Council convene today to discuss what Moscow called a “provocation by Ukrainian radicals” in Bucha.
In response, the defence ministry in Moscow described photos and videos from the town as a “staged performance”.
Russia has previously denied targeting civilians and has rejected allegations of war crimes in what it calls a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarising and “denazifying” Ukraine.
Ukraine says it was invaded without provocation.
Ukraine’s foreign minister called on the International Criminal Court to collect evidence of what he called Russian war crimes, while the foreign ministers of France and Britain said their countries would support any such probe. However, legal experts say a prosecution of Putin or other Russian leaders would face high hurdles and could take years.
Human Rights Watch said it had documented “several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations” in the Ukrainian regions of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said prosecutors investigating possible war crimes by Russia had found 410 bodies in towns near Kyiv, of which 140 had been examined.
Russia has pulled back forces that had threatened Kyiv from the north, saying it intends to focus on eastern Ukraine.
Fighting was reported yesterday in several parts of Ukraine. The governor of the eastern Donetsk region said that shelling had continued throughout the night and day.
Russian shelling killed seven people in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, according to the regional prosecutor’s office.
Two explosions were heard in the Russian city of Belgorod near the border with Ukraine yesterday two witnesses told Reuters, just days after Russian authorities accused Ukrainian forces of striking a fuel depot there.
Ukraine evacuated 2,694 people from conflict zones in the south-eastern port of Mariupol and the region of Luhansk yesterday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
Ukrainian officials were in discussion with Russia to allow several Red Cross buses to enter Mariupol, she added.
The Red Cross abandoned earlier attempts due to security concerns. Russia blamed the charity for the delays.
Mariupol is Russia’s main target in Ukraine’s south-eastern region of Donbas, and tens of thousands of civilians there have been trapped for weeks.
There was little sign of a breakthrough in efforts to negotiate an end to the war, although Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, said talks were due to resume today via videoconference.
The British Prime Minister will this week seek to galvanise a tough response from allies to the crisis in Ukraine as Russia is accused of massacring civilians, with scenes akin to a “horror movie”.
On its 73rd anniversary, Boris Johnson will hail Nato as the “greatest security alliance in the history of the world” – adding that it has a responsibility to support the Ukrainian people as they fight for freedom with “every fibre of their being”.
It comes after the PM condemned Russia’s “despicable attacks” against Ukrainian civilians in Irpin and Bucha, adding that “we will not rest until justice is served”.
This week he will welcome the Polish and German leaders to Downing Street for discussions on Nato and how to support Ukraine as it stands up to Russian aggression.
On Sunday, Mr Johnson said “no denial or disinformation from the Kremlin” can conceal that President Vladimir Putin is “desperate” and “his invasion is failing”.
An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said dead civilians had been found on the streets of the small city of Bucha and the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, in what resembled a “horror movie”.
In Bucha, north-west of Kyiv, Ukrainian soldiers used cables to drag bodies off a street – from a distance due to fears they may be booby-trapped – as Russian troops withdraw and focus attacks on other parts of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova said the bodies of 410 civilians have been found in Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces.
In a statement, Mr Johnson said the UK was “stepping up” its sanctions and military support, and “bolstering” humanitarian help for those on the ground.
He added: “The UK has been at the forefront of supporting the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into atrocities committed in Ukraine.
“The Justice Secretary has authorised additional financial support and the deployment of specialist investigators – we will not rest until justice is served.”
The PA news agency understands this referred to support for the ICC’s investigation announced last week.
Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said “indiscriminate” attacks by Russian forces against innocent civilians in Irpin and Bucha must be investigated as war crimes.
Ms Truss said the UK would “not rest” until those responsible for “atrocities” in Ukraine had faced justice, adding that Russia would not be allowed to cover up its involvement through “cynical disinformation”.
Mr Zelensky’s spokesman Sergey Nikiforov said authorities in Ukraine had found what looked “exactly like war crimes”, including the bodies of executed civilians and mass graves.
On Nato’s anniversary, Mr Johnson said: “73 years ago, today the founding members of Nato came together, united loosely by geography but bound more tightly by a shared belief in freedom and sovereignty. Three quarters of a century later that conviction and drive endures.
“It is that self-same freedom which the people of Ukraine are fighting for with every fibre of their being. As members of the greatest security alliance in the history of the world, we have a responsibility to give them everything they need to face down this barbaric attempt to subjugate the Ukrainian people.
“As the largest European contributor to the alliance and as a staunch friend to Ukraine, the UK will continue to do just that.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in its latest intelligence update that Russian forces, including mercenaries, were refocusing their offensive into the Donbas region.
Meanwhile, a senior diplomat has said he looks forward to working with allies to keep the country safe when he takes up the post of the UK’s permanent representative to Nato.
The UK’s joint delegation will be led by David Quarrey, currently the Prime Minister’s international affairs adviser and deputy national security adviser.
Additional reporting: Telegraph, Reuters, PA and UK Independent , Evening Standard
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/russian-ambassador-to-ireland-to-snub-zelenskys-address-to-dail-as-further-atrocities-uncovered-in-ukrainian-town-of-bucha-41517621.html Ukraine war: Russian ambassador to Ireland to snub Zelensky’s address to Dáil as further atrocities uncovered in town of Bucha