Russia is preparing new offensives to seize land in the east and south, Ukraine’s president urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to take swift action against Moscow, calling for “accountability” for atrocities against civilians.
“Civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their automobiles in the middle of the road,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in a solemn video message to the United Nations Security Council in New York.
“Accountability must be unavoidable,” he added, as he called for Russia’s expulsion from the UN Security Council following six weeks of intense shelling of Ukraine.
“Are you prepared to declare the United Nations closed?” Is international law no longer relevant? If you answered no, he advised, you should take action right now.
After the terrible findings of civilian victims in Bucha and other towns surrounding Kyiv after Russian troops withdrew, Zelensky and other officials described the discoveries as war crimes and attempted “genocide.”
“What we’ve witnessed in Bucha isn’t the result of a lone wolf operation. Before leaving for a NATO meeting in Europe on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated, “It’s a premeditated campaign to kill, torture, rape, and commit crimes.”
More sanctions have been pledged by the US and the EU to strain Russia’s economy and push President Vladimir Putin to terminate the conflict he started six weeks ago, ostensibly to defend pro-Russian pockets in eastern Ukraine.
“We expect a further Russian push in eastern and southern Ukraine in the coming weeks to try to capture the whole Donbas and construct a land bridge to occupied Crimea,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
The EU imposed the fifth set of sanctions aimed at oil and coal exports, as well as a prohibition on Russian ships entering European ports, while the US Treasury declared that Russia would no longer be able to pay its international debt with dollars stored in the US banks.
Ursula von der Leyen, the EU Commission’s chief, said she would visit Kyiv this week and offered the bloc’s help in collecting evidence of war crimes.
The Kremlin has denied any civilian deaths, claiming that the photographs are either fakes created by Ukrainian forces or that the deaths occurred after Russian troops withdrew from the area.
However, Olena, a Bucha local, told AFP that she witnessed Russian forces shooting a guy in the back of the head as units of “brutal” elder servicemen terrorized the area.
“They opened fire right in front of my eyes on a man who was heading to the grocery to acquire food,” said the 43-year-old, who did not want to provide her last name.
After France and Germany did the same on Monday, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Slovenia dismissed dozens more Russian diplomats suspected of being intelligence operations, totaling 180 expulsions in less than 48 hours.
Putin has threatened retaliation for what the Kremlin has described as a “short-sighted move” that will hamper efforts to end the war.
He also stated that Moscow would “watch” its food exports to “unfriendly” countries, raising the possibility of increased global prices as the crisis continues.
According to Ukrainian estimates, the bloodiest fighting in Europe in decades has killed 20,000 people.
According to the United Nations, about 4.25 million Ukrainians have fled the nation as a result of Russia’s invasion, with another 7.1 million internally displaced.