Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine on Sunday condemned the apparent massacre in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, saying the killing of civilians was a “war crime.”
“Deeply shocked by the photos from Bucha. Killing of civilians is a war crime and cannot be justified,” tweeted Michael Brodsky.
But the Foreign Ministry appeared to distance itself from the envoy’s post, telling Haaretz that he was speaking for himself and moreover, “didn’t blame Russia.”
The statement came amid emerging evidence of the massacre of civilians as invading Russian troops retreated from Ukrainian areas they had been occupying.
Reporters saw dozens of bodies, all in civilian clothing, strewn in one street in the town of Bucha.
Three of them were tangled up in bicycles, while others had fallen next to bullet-ridden and crushed cars.
One had his hands tied behind his back with a white cloth, with his Ukrainian passport left open beside his corpse.
“All these people were shot,” said Bucha’s mayor, Anatoly Fedoruk, adding that 280 other bodies had been buried in mass graves in the town. “These are the consequences of Russian occupation.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was “appalled by atrocities in Bucha and other towns in Ukraine” and that evidence would be gathered for a war crimes probe.
“Reports of Russian forces targeting innocent civilians are abhorrent. The UK is working with others to collect evidence and support International Criminal Court war crimes investigation. Those responsible will be held to account,” Truss tweeted.
Germany also condemned the killings of civilians in 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. “I think that a strengthening of sanctions is called for. That’s what we are preparing with our EU partners.”
The International Criminal Court has already opened a probe into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine, and several Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have accused Russia’s Vladimir Putin of being a war criminal.
Ukrainian soldiers, backed by a column of tanks and other armored vehicles, used cables to drag the bodies from a distance for fear they may have been booby-trapped.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russian soldiers of planting mines and other booby traps as they withdraw from northern Ukraine.
“They are leaving behind a complete disaster and many dangers…. Firstly, the airstrikes may continue. Secondly, they are mining the whole territory. Mining houses, equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed,” he said in a video address Saturday, warning returning residents of tripwires and other dangers.
“We are moving forward. Moving carefully and everyone who returns to this area must also be very careful,” he said.