The San Juan Daily Star
Atrocities prompt calls for more sanctions as Russia pummels south
By Dan Bilefsky
The call to hold Russia accountable for apparent atrocities in Ukraine was intensifying Monday after Russian forces retreating from a Kyiv suburb left behind dead civilians lining the streets — some with their hands bound, some with gunshot wounds to the head.
Amid growing global horror at what President Joe Biden called a war crime in the suburb of Bucha, some European leaders were demanding tougher sanctions against Russia, including a total ban on Russian fuel imports. While European Union nations were sharply divided over taking such a drastic step, Biden told reporters in Washington that the United States would be adding “more sanctions” against Moscow. He didn’t provide further details.
The outrage in Washington and in some European capitals was met with broad denials from the Kremlin and accusations that the West had fabricated evidence of violence against civilians.
Russia, meanwhile, continued to bombard key southern cities, including Mykolaiv and the besieged city of Mariupol. The International Committee of the Red Cross said that an evacuation convoy carrying desperately needed humanitarian aid had been unable to reach the city Monday, the fourth day of trying.
Here are some other major developments:
— The Russian general prosecutor’s office warned that anyone describing the Bucha atrocities as Russia’s doing could face prosecution. It claimed, without offering proof, that the accusations of Russian killings of civilians were a “cynical lie” perpetrated by Ukraine and the West.
— Germany said it was expelling 40 Russian diplomats over the actions of Russian forces in Bucha. “The images from Bucha are evidence of incredible brutality on the part of the Russian leadership and those who follow its propaganda,” Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister, said.
— In a speech released late Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy directly addressed the Russian people about the reports of civilian deaths. “I want every mother of every Russian soldier to see the bodies of the killed people in Bucha, in Irpin, in Hostomel,” he said in Russian. “What did they do? Why were they killed?”
— Russia battered Ukraine’s southern coastline with airstrikes Monday, firing rockets at the city of Mykolaiv, regional officials said. The mayor of Mykolaiv told CNN that at least one person was killed.
— Elections on Sunday in Hungary and Serbia appear to have extended the tenures of Europe’s two most Kremlin-friendly leaders, both populist strongmen fortified by their overwhelming control of the news media and cheap energy from Russia.