Putin denies war crimes in meeting with UN chief
Moscow, Apr 26 (EFE).- Russian president Vladimir Putin on Tuesday repeated his denial that his country was responsible for alleged atrocities and war crimes committed in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns that were occupied by Russian forces for weeks.
“Russia was faced with provocation in Bucha, something the Russian side had nothing to do with,” Putin said during a meeting in the Kremlin with the United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres.
“Russian forces had no connections to Bucha. We know who did it,” he said, repeating his claim that Kyiv had “prepared this provocation”.
Ukraine and several western nations have accused Moscow of executing Ukrainian civilians, while there have been widespread reports of survivors of alleged sexual violence against civilians by Russian soldiers.
Putin also denied that hostilities were ongoing in the besieged city of Mariupol, a situation he described as “tragic” and “complicated.”
“The military operations have ended there. There are no military operations in Mariupol,” the Russian president claimed.
Ukraine, however, said that the Azovstal steel factory, which is being held by the last remaining Ukrainian troops in the war-battered city, was attacked 35 times by Russian forces in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile Guterres, who told Putin that the UN believes Russia invaded Ukraine illegally, said that alleged human rights abuses and war crimes carried out in Ukraine must be independently investigated.
“The United Nations has repeatedly called for ceasefires to protect civilians and to facilitate a political dialogue to reach a solution,” Guterres said during a press conference with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov ahead of his meeting with Putin.
“I am concerned about the repeated reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and possible war crimes, and they require independent investigation for effective accountability,” he added.
The UN chief advocated for a so-called humanitarian contact group bringing together Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations to implement and monitor humanitarian corridors and local ceasefires.
Lavrov told the joint press conference that Russia rejected foreign mediation in the current situation.
Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes such as forced deportation of civilians, rape and summary execution, especially in areas of north and northeast Ukraine from where Russian troops have withdrawn to focus their offensive on the eastern Donbas region. EFE