(Update 1: Adds Russia’s response)
Brussels, Apr 3 (EFE).- European Union leaders on Sunday condemned reports of atrocities being committed by Russian forces in Ukraine and called for an investigation by the International Court of Justice as well as for further sanctions against Moscow.
The reaction from senior EU officials came following a report from Human Rights Watch, which said it had confirmed apparent war crimes, including repeated rape and summary executions, carried out by Russian troops in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Kharkiv.
“Appalled by reports of unspeakable horrors in areas from which Russia is withdrawing,” Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, said in a tweet.
“An independent investigation is urgently needed. Perpetrators of war crimes will be held accountable.”
Charles Michel, who presides over the European Council, said the EU was aiding in the collection of evidence to pursue charges in “international courts” and that further sanctions were “on their way.”
The bloc’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell congratulated Ukraine for its recapture of almost all of the Kyiv region, from where Russian troops are withdrawing but reiterated the EU’s condemnation of the alleged war crimes committed by Moscow’s forces.
Local media reported the discovery of mass graves and streets strewn with civilian bodies in towns like Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Ukraine’s defense minister Dmytro Kuleba shared images from the scene on his official Twitter page with the message: “Bucha massacre was deliberate. Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can.
“We must stop them and kick them out. I demand new devastating G7 sanctions NOW: Oil, gas, coal embargo. Close all ports to Russian vessels and goods. Disconnect all Russian banks from SWIFT.”
Russia denied its troops had killed civilians in Bucha, adding that all the photos and videos published by the Ukrainian government were a “provocation.”
“The Russian Ministry of Defense refutes the accusations of the Kyiv regime on the alleged murder of civilians in the town of Bucha, Kyiv region,” the ministry said on its Telegram account.
“All the photos and all the videos published by the Kyiv regime, which allegedly testify to some kind of ‘crime’ by Russian military personnel in the city of Bucha, are another provocation,” it added. EFE