Condemning the civilian killings in Ukraine, US and NATO leaders have warned that Russian troop movements away from Kyiv did not signal a withdrawal or end to the violence.
According to reports, evidence of possible civilian killings around Kyiv has emerged as the Russian army has pulled back from the capital in the face of ferocious resistance from Ukrainian forces.
Bucha's mayor, Anatoly Fedoruk said 280 other bodies had been buried in mass graves in the town. “You can't help but see these images as a punch to the gut,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a day after horrific footage from Bucha, recently retaken from Russian forces, was widely aired.
Blinken maintained that such killings were “the reality of what's going on every single day” that Russia remains in Ukraine. He reaffirmed that the United States was helping to document possible war crimes, but did not say whether he considered them to be crimes against humanity or acts of genocide.
Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said he was ‘deeply shocked' by images of the killings and called for an independent investigation.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the killings of civilians in Bucha were “horrific and absolutely unacceptable.” Stoltenberg also said he was not ‘too optimistic' about Russia's claim to be pulling troops away from Kyiv.
“What we see is not a withdrawal, but we see that Russia is repositioning its troops,” Stoltenberg said, warning of the potential of increased attacks. Meanwhile, Blinken echoed that warning in an interview, saying that Moscow still has “the ability to wreak massive death and destruction, including in places like Kyiv, with airpower and missiles.”
But he also noted that the shift appears to be “evidence that Russia's original plans to take over the whole country, including Kyiv, have been dealt a devastating setback.”
“Russia had three goals going into this: To subjugate Ukraine to its will, to deny its sovereignty and its independence, to assert Russian power, and to divide the West, divide the alliance. And on all three fronts, it's failed,” Blinken said.
He said it was urgent that the West and Kyiv keep the pressure on Russia.
Ukraine has offered to accept becoming neutral if it receives adequate security guarantees from Western nations, abandoning aspirations to join NATO. Blinken said that if Ukraine negotiates an agreement “that meets their needs. we will support it.”