Vladimir Putin will pay for ‘despicable’ war crimes, vows Boris Johnson

Ukraine: Ukrainian soldiers heading to defence of Izium

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One mayor reported that hundreds of residents had been murdered, some crushed by the invaders’ tanks.

Blitzed roads leading to the capital Kyiv were strewn with bound and hooded bodies, in what President Volodymr Zelensky declared was an act of “genocide”.

As world leaders condemned execution-style killings and rapes by Putin’s soldiers, Mr Johnson pledged last night: “We will not rest until justice is served.”

The PM promised that the UK will back investigations by the International Criminal Court.

He added: “Russia’s despicable attacks against innocent civilians in Irpin and Bucha are yet more evidence that Putin and his army are committing war crimes.

“No denial or disinformation from the Kremlin can hide what we all know to be the truth – Putin is desperate, his invasion is failing, and Ukraine’s resolve has never been stronger.

“I will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine. We are stepping up our sanctions and military support as well as bolstering our humanitarian support.”

Richard Moore, the head of MI6, wrote online: “We knew Putin’s invasion plans included summary executions by his military and intelligence services. The reports of execution-style killings of civilians emerging from liberated areas are horrifying and chilling.”

Oleksandr Markushin, the mayor of Irpin – a suburb of Kyiv – said that Russians were driving tanks over civilians.

He said around 300 locals and 50 servicemen had been killed by Putin’s troops: “They crushed the killed Ukrainians with tanks, they just rolled them into the asphalt – it was terrifying to watch.

“People who they didn’t like were just shot.”

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Kremlin’s soldiers were executing civilians “out of anger and just because they wanted to kill”.

He told Times Radio: “They were killing civilians while leaving…in this town of Bucha and also in other towns and villages. There was no good reason for them.

“These were not guerrillas, they were not people opposing them.

“Russia is worse than Isis. We hear from Russia and from Russian President Vladimir Putin that he denies the rights of Ukrainians to have their own identity and have our own state, so…I do not exclude the possibility of genocide.”

In a later statement, he added: “I urge the International Criminal Court and international organisations to send their missions to Bucha and other liberated towns and villages of the Kyiv region, in cooperation with Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, to thoroughly collect all evidence of Russian war crimes.”

Mr Kuleba added: “This is a matter of my life, which I will do until my last breath, until they are all held accountable.”

Footage shared by Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun showed a road littered with bodies.

She wrote: “Russian troops retreat from near #Kyiv. The Ukrainian army chases them away. “New video from the suburbs of Kyiv – Bucha. Dozens of civilian corpses are lying on the roads. Some people with their hands tied.”

She added: “The Vienna Convention doesn’t work.”

Ukraine’s Defence Ministry linked the atrocities to the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men in the Bosnian War in 1995.

It wrote: “New Srebrenica. The Ukrainian city of Bucha was in the hands of animals for several weeks. Local civilians were being executed arbitrarily, some with hands tied behind their backs, their bodies scattered in the streets.”

Bucha resident Mykola Kovalenko, 71, survived by hiding in his cellar.

He said: “It was like a living hell with hunger and constant shelling and gunfire. I saw families trying to escape and being shot. It was horrible. I saw a young boy in the street next to his mother.

“Russians had kicked down cellar doors to find women when they were drunk. Some women were later found hanging from the ceiling.”

He added: “The Russians are pigs. Putin must pay.”

President Zelensky told CBS’s Face the Nation: “This is genocide. This is happening in the Europe of the 21st century.”

While the Kyiv Independent media outlet posted that, when shown photos of murdered citizens, he declared: “Mothers of Russian soldiers should see that. See what b******s you’ve raised. Murderers, looters, butchers.”

Kyiv mayor and ex-world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko told German newspaper Bild: “What happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide.”

Boris Johnson said Dominic Raab had signalled UK backing for a war crimes inquiry, adding the Justice Secretary “has authorised additional financial support and the deployment of specialist investigators – we will not rest until justice is served”.

While Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces. Their indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians…must be investigated as war crimes. We will not allow Russia to cover up their involvement.”

New York-based researchers Human Rights Watch said Russian military forces committing “lawsof-war violations” against civilians in the Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv regions of Ukraine “should be investigated as war crimes”.

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