The “indiscriminate” attacks by Russian forces against innocent Ukrainian civilians must be investigated as war crimes, the Foreign Secretary has said.
Liz Truss said the UK will “not rest” until those responsible for atrocities in Ukraine have faced justice, adding that Russia will not be allowed to cover up its involvement through “cynical disinformation”.
Ms Truss referred to the “appalling acts” carried out by Russian forces in the towns of Irpin and Bucha.
The Associated Press said its journalists in Bucha, north-west of Kyiv, watched as Ukrainian soldiers used cables to drag bodies off a street, done so from a distance due to fears they may be booby-trapped.
AP said its journalists counted at least six bodies, adding that locals said they were civilians killed without provocation by Russian soldiers.
In a statement on Sunday, Ms Truss said: “As Russian troops are forced into retreat, we are seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha.
“Their indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians during Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes.
“We will not allow Russia to cover up their involvement in these atrocities through cynical disinformation and will ensure that the reality of Russia’s actions are brought to light.”
She said the UK will fully support any investigations by the International Criminal Court, adding that the UK-led effort to expedite and support an International Criminal Court investigation into crimes in Ukraine was “the largest State referral in its history”.
Ms Truss said: “We will not rest until those responsible for atrocities, including military commanders and individuals in the Putin regime, have faced justice.
“At this time, more than ever, it is essential that the international community continues to provide Ukraine with the humanitarian and military support it so dearly needs, and that we step up sanctions to cut off funding for Putin’s war machine at source.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “the world must take note” of what has happened in Ukraine.
Asked if alleged war crimes should be brought to the International Criminal Court, he told Sky News: “I think it is absolutely right that this is all properly documented. This matters.
“We’ve seen in war before, it matters that this is documented and that cases are capable of being brought to international justice.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s spokesman, Sergey Nikiforov, said authorities in Ukraine have found what “looks exactly like war crimes”, including the bodies of executed civilians and mass graves.
Mr Nikiforov told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show the scenes that have been discovered in de-occupied territories such as Bucha are “really hard to describe”.
He said: “We found mass graves. We found people with their hands and with their legs tied up… and with shots, bullet holes, in the back of their head.
“They were clearly civilians and they were executed.
“We found half-burned bodies as if somebody tried to hide their crimes but they didn’t have enough time to do it properly.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson spoke with Mr Zelensky on Saturday evening.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “He congratulated Ukraine’s brave armed forces for successfully pushing back Russia’s invading army in a number of areas, but recognised the huge challenges that remain and the immense suffering being inflicted on civilians.”
The Prime Minister updated Mr Zelensky on the progress made at the recent military donor conference, convened by the UK with 35 countries, No 10 said, and “committed to continue to step up defensive support”.
The spokesperson added: “President Zelensky underscored the urgency of Ukraine’s fight for its survival as a free and democratic nation, and the importance of international assistance.
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“President Zelensky also updated on the status on peace negotiations and welcomed further UK involvement in these diplomatic efforts.
“Both leaders agreed on the importance of continuing to ratchet up sanctions to increase the economic pressure on (Vladimir) Putin’s war machine, so long as Russian troops remain on Ukrainian territory.
“They committed to remain in close contact and speak again in the coming days.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said welcome hubs are being set up at airports, ports and train stations across the country to welcome Ukrainians.
A total of 27 local authorities will receive a share of £1.87 million to run 31 different hubs across the country.
The hubs will provide food, clothing and sanitary products, as well as being a meeting point for matched families to meet one another.