Horrifying details are emerging of mass killings and civilians being slaughtered in the streets of Ukraine in previously Russian-occupied areas.
As the Kremlin’s forces pull out of towns and villages around the capital Kyiv, Ukraine’s forces and journalists from the west are able to step foot back in them for the first time since they were taken early in the invasion.
However, they have been greeted with horror scenes of dead bodies littering the streets.
At least 280 people were found dead in the village of Bucha, after Russian forces left the settlement.
A reporter for the AFP news agency in the village counted dozens of bodies and one man whose hands were tied.
Their bodies littered the streets, greeting those who entered the village.
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In the recaptured town of Bucha, reached by news agency Reuters, the sprawled remains of more than a dozen bodies lined one road.
A mass grave in the grounds of a church was still open, with hands and feet poking through the red clay heaped on top.
Bucha’s mayor, Anatoliy Fedoruk, said more than 300 residents had been killed and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Indeed, this is genocide – the elimination of the whole nation and the people.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was appalled by atrocities in Bucha and voiced support for the International Criminal Court’s inquiry into potential war crimes in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia on Sunday of carrying out a deliberate “massacre” in the town and called on the G7 to impose “devastating” new sanctions on Moscow.
AFP via Getty Images)
“We are still gathering and looking for bodies, but the number has already gone into the hundreds.
“Dead bodies lie on the streets. They killed civilians while staying there and when they were leaving these villages and towns,” his ministry quoted him as saying on Twitter.
Other world leaders rushed to accuse Moscow or war crimes but Russia denies targeting civilians and rejects war crimes allegations.
The photos show the widespread destruction and horrific actions of the Russian armies amidst fears this is only the beginning.
AFP via Getty Images)
A video believed to be of one such village shows Ukrainian troops having to slalom their trucks down the streets to avoid all the dead bodies that lay there.
The haunting images show a significant number of dead, cast across the street and at the road side with no one to move their bodies.
The video ends with two more bodies, of two people who died together.
More horrifying reports are coming from the liberated regions around Kyiv and in Kyiv Oblast.
Anastasiia Lapatina, a Ukrainian journalist, said: “Russians are shooting civilians after tying their hands behind their backs.
“Dead bodies are all over the Kyiv oblast, on the streets, in cars, in people’s yards. Mass graves are full of unidentified bodies.
“Many families will never know what happened to their loved ones”.
Another horrifying picture from Motizhin, in Kyiv Oblast, shows dead bodies half buried in what could be a mass grave.
Faces and limbs are sticking out of the dirt and sand where the bodies were dumped.
These shocking reports confirm the worst fears of many as the invasion continues into its fifth week.
AFP via Getty Images)
There have long been reports of Russian atrocities from occupied territories but the new pictures are proof of what many feared.
BBC journalists found the bodies of civilians who were slaughtered by Russian troops in another part of Kyiv.
In Mria and Myla, both in the Kyiv Oblast, they counted a total of 13 dead bodies along a stretch of road.
It comes after Ukraine’s troops have retaken more than 30 towns and villages around Kyiv since Russia pulled back from the area this week, Ukrainian officials said.
“The whole Kyiv region is liberated from the invader,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said.
Ukraine’s armed forces reported diminished Russian air and missile strikes on Saturday but said Russian troops retreating from near Kyiv were deploying mines.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in a video address: “They are mining all this territory. Houses are mined, equipment is mined, even the bodies of dead people.”
Ukraine’s emergencies service said over 1,500 explosives had been found in one day during a search of the village of Dmytrivka, west of Kyiv.
However, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg feared the departure of Russian troops from around Kyiv was “not a real withdrawal”.
He told CNN: “What we see is that Russia is repositioning its troops and they are taking some of them back to rearm them, to reinforce them, to resupply them.”
Invading soldiers are thought to be regrouping after the Kremlin previously claimed they were concentrating on consolidating gains in eastern Ukraine and along the southern coast.
Russian forces continued to pound the Black Sea port city of Odesa, the main base for Ukraine’s navy.
If taken, it would give Russia a land corridor from Crimea to Transnistria – a Russian-speaking breakaway province of Moldova that hosts Russian troops.
Serge Nykyforov told BBC1’s Sunday Morning show: “We found mass graves, we found people with their hands and with their legs tied up…and with shots, bullet holes, in the back of their head.
“They were clearly civilians and they were executed.
“We found half-burned bodies as if somebody tried to hide their crimes but they didn’t have enough time to do it properly.”
He added: “It looks, I have to be careful with my wording, but it looks exactly like war crimes.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “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.
“No denial or disinformation from the Kremlin can hide what we all know to be the truth – Putin is desperate, his invasion is failing, and Ukraine’s resolve has never been stronger.”