The bodies of 132 civilians were found shot dead at a new potential Russian war crime site in Ukraine, officials said today, as Kyiv’s forces continue to thwart Moscow’s ambition of joining Crimea and the Donbas.
The slain civilians were found in Makariv, a town in Kyiv Oblast and about 30 miles west of the capital. All died from bullet wounds, officials said.
Roughly 40 percent of the town has been destroyed, according to reports, which came after Ukrainian troops recaptured it from Russian occupation on March 22. Officials have been counting the dead ever since.
Similar scenes have been found in the nearby town of Bucha, where more than 400 dead civilians were discovered. The majority had also been gunned down.
Workers unearthed bodies from a mass grave in the commuter town, as graphic evidence of dozens of killings emerged following the withdrawal of Russian forces.
It also comes after two Russian missiles struck a railway station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, killing at least 52 people who were attempting to flee west.
The bodies of 132 civilians were found shot dead at a new potential Russian war crimes site in Ukraine, officials said today. Pictured: Workers remove debris from a destroyed building in the region west of Kyiv, April 8, 2022
Pictured: Empty coffins are seen outside a morgue in Makariv, amid Russia’s invasion on Ukraine in makariv, in Kyiv region Ukraine April 5, 2022
Pictured: An image shared by Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces shows the body of a teenage boy by the side of the road just north of Makariv. According to the officials, his hands and feet had been bound and he’d been shot in the back
Pictured: A booby trap using a Russian F-1 grenade fastened to a pair of doors is seen in Makariv, in an image shared on social media by a local official
As evidence of war crimes mount against the Kremlin, its forces continue to face strong Ukrainian resistance. According to a Friday update from Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), Russia’s attempts to establish a land corridor between Crimea and the eastern Donbas region ‘continue to be thwarted by Ukrainian resistance.’
After failing to take Kyiv in the face of stiff resistance, Russian forces have set their sights on the eastern Donbas region, the mostly Russian-speaking, industrial area where Moscow-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years and control some places.
The MoD said that in northern Ukraine Russian forces have ‘fully withdrawn’ to Belarus and Russia. ‘At least some of these forces will be transferred to East Ukraine to fight in the Donbas,’ it said early on Friday morning.
Some analysts have suggested that the focus on the Donbas and the pledge to de-escalate may merely be an effort to put a positive spin on reality: Moscow’s ground forces have been thwarted – and have taken heavy losses – in their bid to seize the capital and other cities.
Before Russian president Vladimir Putin launched his invasion on February 24, Makariv had been a picturesque home to around 10,000 people.
According to reports, the town has a historic Jewish community. Putin – and Russian propaganda – has claimed Moscow’s invasion is ‘de-nazifying’ Ukraine, as an attempt to justify the war.
Pictures from Makariv – that lies 18 miles south-west of Bucha – show scenes of devastation that have become all-too common in Ukraine.
Homes lie in ruins from artillery fire, twisted metal from destroyed military hardware lines the streets, and locals walk amongst the rubble.
In one photo posted by Ukraine’s territorial defence forces, a teenage boy is shown lying face-down in a forest. The officials said his hands were bound and he was shot in the back. In another, a grenade has been fastened to a pair of double doors in an apparent booby-trap set by retreating Russian forces.
Police said earlier this week they had found at least 20 bodies in Makariv. In the village of Andriivka, residents said the Russians arrived in early March, took locals’ phones and detained and then released some people.
Others met unknown fates. Some described sheltering for weeks in cellars normally used for storing vegetables.
A residential building destroyed as a result of shell fire on April 7, 2022 in Makariv, Ukraine
A damaged car sits amongst a residential building destroyed as a result of shellfire on April 7 in Makariv. According to reports, 40 percent of the town has been destroyed
Projectiles are seen on the road, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine near Makariv, in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 5, 2022
Bodies are still being collected in Bucha. Cemetery workers on Wednesday began loading more than 60 bodies into a grocery shipping truck so they could be taken to a facility for further investigation.
Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk has said investigators found at least three sites of mass shootings of civilians and were still finding bodies in yards, parks and city squares – 90 percent of whom were shot.
Russia has falsely claimed that the scenes in Bucha were staged.
Earlier this week, a Russian commander allegedly ordered his troops to shoot at Ukrainian civilians near the besieged southern port city of Mariupol.
In a foul-mouthed radio dispatch intercepted by Ukraine’s SBU and published on the security service’s official Facebook account, an unnamed soldier details the positions of non-combatants to nearby troops in a village near the southern port city.
His superior then demands: ‘Take them all f**king out’, before doubling down on his bloodcurdling instructions as the troop says that two people emerging from a nearby grove were dressed in ‘civilian clothes’.
The commander screams: ‘Off them all, f**k!’.
Ukrainian investigators exhume bodies from a mass grave in the grounds of the St Andrew church in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on April 8, 2022
Pictured: A hand is shown buried in a mass grave in Bucha, April 8
Policemen work to identify civilians who were killed during the Russian occupation in Bucha, Ukraine, on the outskirts of Kyiv, before sending the bodies to the morgue, Wednesday, April 6
A Ukrainian serviceman stands amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 6, 2022
The discoveries in Bucha and the regions outside of Kyiv has resulted in Ukrainian allies tightening sanction on Russia further, with the European Union announcing an embargo on Russian coal and a ban on Russian vessels at its ports.
And at the United Nations on Thursday, the General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, only the second-ever suspension of a country from the body.
The attack on Kramatorsk’s station has led to calls for sanctions to go even further, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying he wants a tough global response to the attack.
The Kremlin insists its troops have committed no war crimes and alleged the images of brutality coming out of Bucha were staged by the Ukrainians. It claimed yesterday that the attack on the station was also carried out by Ukraine’s military.
A local man walks past a damaged armoured personal carrier in the town of Makariv, in Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine April 1, 2022
A view of a residential building destroyed as a result of shell fire on April 7, 2022 in Makariv, Ukraine
A view of a bridge damaged as a result of shellfire on April 7, 2022 in Makariv, Ukraine
Mr Zelensky’s voice rose in anger during his nightly address on Friday, when he said the strike on the Kramatorsk train station, where 4,000 people were trying to flee a looming Russian offensive in the east, amounted to another war crime.
Dozens of people were severely injured in the strike and the dead included children.
Photos taken after the attack showed bodies covered with tarpaulins and the remnants of a rocket painted with the words ‘For the children’ in Russian.
The Russian phrasing seemed to suggest the missile was sent to avenge the loss or subjugation of children, although its exact meaning remained unclear.
It is believed to be the result of Russian propaganda brainwashing troops into believing Ukraine is carrying out atrocities in the east of the country.
The strike seemed to shock world leaders.
‘There are almost no words for it,’ European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters during a visit to Ukraine. ‘The cynical behaviour (by Russia) has almost no benchmark any more.’
Mr Zelensky said: ‘Like the massacres in Bucha, like many other Russian war crimes, the missile attack on Kramatorsk should be one of the charges at the tribunal that must be held.’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivering a speech during a joint press conference with European Commission President in Kyiv on April 8, 2022
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (centre) and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell are shown destroyed Russian army vehicles during their visit to the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv on April 8
A Russian air strike hit Kramatorsk’s train station on Friday, with graphic pictures showing bodies strewn across floor outside, lying amongst abandoned luggage
A fragment of a Tochka-U missile lies on the ground following an attack at the railway station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Friday, April 8, 2022
Although the train station is in Ukrainian government-controlled territory in the Donbas, Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack, as did the region’s Moscow-backed separatists who work closely with Russian troops.
Western experts, however, dismissed Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s assertion that Russian forces ‘do not use’ that type of missile.
A Western official said Russia’s forces have used the missile – and that given the strike’s location and impact, it was likely Russia’s.
Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, added that only Russia would have reason to target railway infrastructure in the Donbas, as it is critical for the Ukrainian military’s efforts to reinforce its units.
Mr Bronk pointed to other occasions when Russian authorities have tried to deflect blame by claiming their forces no longer use an older weapon ‘to kind of muddy the waters and try and create doubt’. He suggested Russia specifically chose the missile type because Ukraine also possesses them.
Ukrainian authorities and Western officials have repeatedly accused Russian forces of atrocities in the war that began on February 24.
More than 4 million Ukrainians have fled the country, and millions more have been displaced. Some of the grisliest evidence has been found in towns around Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, from which Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops pulled back in recent days.