Live updates | Russia denies growing charges of war crimes | Nation

MOSCOW — The Kremlin has strongly rejected the accusations that Russian troops committed atrocities against civilians in Ukraine and pushed for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the Ukrainian claims that Russian troops had killed hundreds of civilians outside Kyiv can’t be trusted, adding that “we categorically reject the accusations.” Peskov’s comment in a conference call with reporters followed the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement accusing the Ukrainian authorities of stage-managing what it described as a “provocation” to smear Russia.

Ukrainian authorities have said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in areas outside the Ukrainian capital after last week’s withdrawal of Russian troops, many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture. International leaders have condemned the reported atrocities and called for tougher sanctions against Moscow.

Peskov said that photo and video materials from the area reflected unspecified “manipulations” and urged international leaders to carefully analyze the facts and hear the Russian arguments before rushing to blame Moscow.

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Russia has called for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council but the U.K. which currently chairs it refused to convene it, according to Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian envoy at the international organization’s offices in Vienna.

Peskov said that Russia will keep pushing for the meeting, noting that Russia wants the issue to be discussed at the highest level.


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MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says Russian troops’ alleged atrocities against civilians in Ukraine should be judged in an international court and may amount to genocide.

Sánchez said Monday: “I hope that everything possible can be done so that those behind these war crimes don’t go unpunished, and that they can appear before the courts, in this case the International Criminal Court, to answer these alleged cases of crimes against humanity, war crimes and, why not say it, of genocide, too.”

He was speaking at an economic forum in Madrid after Ukrainian authorities said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in areas outside the capital Kyiv after last week’s withdrawal of Russian troops. Many had their hands bound, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture.

Sánchez said he felt indignation at “the horror of these deaths that we have seen in recent days.”

Also in Spain on Monday U.S. federal agents and Spain’s Civil Guard searched a yacht owned by a Russian oligarch that was docked on a Spanish island.

The law enforcement officers boarded the yacht at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Associated Press reporters at the scene saw police going in and out of the boat on Monday morning.

A Civil Guard source told The Associated Press that the yacht named Tango is a 78-meter (254-feet) vessel that carries Cook Islands flag and that, a specialized website that tracks the world’s largest and most exclusive recreational boats, values it at $120 million. The source was not authorized to be named in media reports and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The yacht is among the assets linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close ally with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, tech and other assets, according to U.S. Treasury Department documents. All of Vekselberg’s assets in the U.S. are frozen and U.S. companies are forbidden from doing business with him and his entities.

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat has joined a growing chorus of international criticism blaming the Russian armed forces for alleged atrocities committed against civilians in Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says “the Russian authorities are responsible for these atrocities, committed while they had effective control of the area. They are subject to the international law of occupation.”

Borrell said Monday that the “haunting images of large numbers of civilian deaths and casualties, as well as destruction of civilian infrastructures show the true face of the brutal war of aggression Russia is waging against Ukraine and its people.”

Working with the U.S., U.K. and other international partners, the EU has been ramping up sanctions against Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February. Borrell says the 27-country bloc “will advance, as a matter of urgency, work on further sanctions against Russia.”

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s prime minister has described Russia as a “totalitarian fascist” state that has carried out atrocities against civilians in Ukraine.

Mateusz Morawiecki called Monday for an international commission to be formed to investigate the evidence emerging that Russian soldiers carried out executions of Ukrainian civilians.

“Russia is already a totalitarian-fascist state today,” Mateusz Morawiecki said at a news conference in Warsaw.

“The bloody massacres perpetrated by Russian soldiers deserve to be called by name: This is genocide and this crime must be tried as the crime of genocide,” Morawiecki said.

He called on other Western powers to impose even heavier sanctions on Russia in order to weaken its war machine, saying that Germany in particular should do more to support sanctions.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the photos of bodies scattered in a city on the outskirts of Kyiv “recall the mass killings by Soviet and Nazi regimes.”

“This is not a battlefield, it’s a crime scene. Mass killings of Ukrainian civilians by #Russia are clear war crime,” Kallas said on Twitter and called for “a 5th round of strong EU sanctions as soon as possible.”

The Baltic country’s Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said the pictures from Bucha are ”appalling,” the Baltic News Service reported.

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron condemned “with utmost strength” the reported torture and killings of Ukrainian civilians by Russian troops in an interview Monday on France-Inter radio.

“There is clear evidence of war crimes. It was the Russian army that was in Bucha,” Macron said. “We have told Ukrainian authorities that we were at their disposal to help with the investigation they’re carrying out. International justice must prevail. Those who committed these crimes will have to answer for them.”

Macron joined leaders from around the world who are calling for stronger sanctions in response to the reports.

“What just happened in Bucha calls for a new round of sanctions and very clear measures. We will coordinate with our European partners, especially Germany and we will take further individual measures,” Macron said. “In particular on coal and petrol, we need to act.”

“It is our collective dignity and it is our values that we need to defend,” he added.

LONDON — Britain’s Defense Ministry says Russia is continuing to build up both its soldiers and mercenaries in eastern Ukraine.

“Russian forces are continuing to consolidate and reorganize as they refocus their offensive into the Donbas region in the east of Ukraine,” the ministry said in an intelligence update posted on social media Monday.

It says Russian troops are being moved into the area, along with mercenaries from the Wagner private military group.

Overnight, the U.K. said Russia was still trying to take the southern port city of Mariupol, which has seen weeks of intense fighting. It said “the city continues to be subject to intense, indiscriminate strikes, but Ukrainian Forces maintain a staunch resistance, retaining control in central areas.”

The update added that “Mariupol is almost certainly a key objective of the Russian invasion as it will secure a land corridor from Russia to the occupied territory of Crimea,” which it annexed in 2014.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the country will conduct a probe into alleged atrocities against civilians by Russian troops involving international investigators.

Zelenskyy said in an address that “the world has seen many war crimes,” adding that “the time has come to make the war crimes committed by Russian troops the last such evil on Earth.” He said that a special justice mechanism will be created to investigate the Russian atrocities with participation of international prosecutors and judges.

Ukrainian authorities have said that the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in areas outside the Ukrainian capital after last week’s withdrawal of Russian troops — many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture. International leaders have condemned the reported atrocities and called for tougher sanctions against Moscow.

Russia has rejected the accusations of killing civilians as a “provocation” by Ukrainian authorities and initiated a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the issue.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian authorities are reporting more civilian casualties from the Russian barrage.

At least seven people were killed and 34, including three children, were wounded in a Russian rocket attack on Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv late Sunday, according to the regional prosecutor’s office. It said that 10 buildings were destroyed.

In the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv, regional Gov. Vitaliy Kim said at least one resident was killed and 14 others were wounded by Russian shelling late Sunday. Local authorities also reported more Russian strikes on Mykolaiv early Monday, but there was no immediate word of casualties.

TOKYO — Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said he was “deeply shocked” by Russia’s alleged attacks on civilians in the Ukrainian towns and called for firm investigations by the International Criminal Court over Moscow’s “war crimes,” echoing Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s earlier condemnation of the reported attacks “as violation to international law.”

“We are deeply shocked by revelations of Russia’s extremely ghastly actions that victimized many Ukrainian citizens,” Matsuno told reporters Monday. “Attacks on innocent citizens violate international human rights law and are absolutely unforgivable.”

Matsuno noted that Tokyo had filed a formal complaint with the International Criminal Court against Russia over its war on Ukraine in March and that Japan expects the court to fully investigate the “war crimes” allegedly committed by Moscow.

Matsuno said Japan will continue to cooperate with the other members of the Group of Seven advanced economies and the international society in possible further sanctions against Russia, but he did not elaborate.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday described reports of rape and other atrocities by Russian troops in Ukraine as “reprehensible.”

Bodies with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture lay scattered in a city on the outskirts of Kyiv after Russian soldiers withdrew from the area. Ukrainian authorities accused the departing forces on Sunday of committing war crimes and leaving behind a “scene from a horror movie.”

“The reports of Ukrainian civilians who have been killed, raped and severely wounded by Russian troops is beyond reprehensible,” Ardern told reporters in the New Zealand capital Wellington.

“Russia must answer to the world for what they’ve done,” she said.

She said her Cabinet considered on Monday further measures New Zealand could take to support Ukraine and send a strong message to Russia. Further details would be outlined this week.

“Certainly, what we as an international community are seeing are evidence of war crimes at the hands of Russia,” Ardern said.

“Ultimately it is for the International Criminal Court to make that determination, but the evidence is there and New Zealand is supporting the prosecutors in gathering that evidence and making sure that Russia is held to account,” she added.

LAS VEGAS — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appeared in a video at the Grammy Awards asking for support in telling the story of Ukraine’s invasion by Russia.

During the pre-recorded message that aired on the show Sunday night, he spoke in English, likening the attack to a deadly silence threatening to extinguish the dreams and lives of the Ukrainian people, including children.

In his words: “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway.”

The Recording Academy, with its partner Global Citizen, prior to the ceremony highlighted a social media campaign called “Stand Up For Ukraine” to raise money and humanitarian support.

Zelenskyy told the audience: “Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today to tell our story. Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV, support us in any way you can any, but not silence. And then peace will come to all our cities.”

Following Zelenskyy’s message, John Legend performed his song “Free” with Ukrainian musicians Siuzanna Iglidan and Mika Newton and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk as images from the war were shown on screens behind them.

KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian military says that its forces have retaken some towns in the Chernihiv region and that humanitarian aid is being delivered.

The news agency RBK Ukraina says the road between Chernihiv and the capital of Kyiv is to reopen to some traffic later Monday.

Chernihiv is a city 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Kyiv and it had been cut off from shipments of food and other supplies for weeks. The mayor said Sunday that relentless Russian shelling had destroyed 70% of the city.

Russian forces also withdrew from the Sumy region, in Ukraine’s northeast, local administrator Dmitry Zhivitsky said in a video message carried by Ukrainian news agencies Sunday. The troops had occupied the area for nearly a month.

In other areas recently retaken from Russian troops, Ukrainian officials say they have recovered hundreds of slain civilians in the past few days. Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says the bodies of 410 civilians have been recovered from Kyiv-area towns.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian troops.

Iryna Venediktova says on Facebook that the bodies were recovered Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She says 140 of them have undergone examination by prosecutors and other specialists.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says the mayor of the village of Motyzhyn in the Kyiv region was murdered while being held by Russian forces. Vereshchuk adds that there are 11 mayors and community heads in Russian captivity across Ukraine.

In a video address Sunday, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the allegedly targeted killings of civilians in towns that the Russians occupied, calling the killers “freaks who do not know how to do otherwise.” He warns that more atrocities may be revealed if Russian forces are driven out of other occupied areas.

International leaders have condemned the reported attacks in the Kyiv-area towns after harrowing accounts from civilians and graphic images of bodies with hands tied behind their backs.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected the claims of atrocities against civilians in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv.

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