Vladimir Putin has handed out military honours to soldiers reportedly involved in the mass killing of civilians in Bucha.
The Russian President's shocking decision to award Russia's 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade with the esteemed title of 'Guards', comes despite evidence mounting of their involvement in the murder at least 403 innocent people in the Ukrainian town.
The soldiers withdrew from the city of Bucha earlier in the month after allegedly filling several graves with tortured civilian corpses.
They left a trail of destruction and suffering in neighbourhoods around Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities say.
In a presidential decree from the Kremlin, Putin praised the troops for "mass heroism and courage, fortitude and courage shown by the personnel of the brigade in combat operations to protect the Fatherland and state interests in armed conflicts."
Describing them as a model to be followed by other soldiers, he added: "Skilful and resolute actions of the unit's personnel during the special military operation in Ukraine are an example of the performance of military duty, courage, selflessness and high professionalism.
"I am convinced that you, soldiers and officers – guardsmen, will continue to be faithful to the Oath, serve the Motherland with honour, and reliably ensure the safety and peaceful life of our citizens."
Last week it was claimed that a Ukrainian teenager was raped, murdered and then dumped in a mass grave in Bucha in a sickening act of violence.
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A family friend of Karina Yershova, 16, said she was shot in the back of the head before she was thrown in the "trash".
Speaking on Facebook, a friend of Karina's mother, Olesya Vasylets wrote: 'Friends, terrible news. Racists killed my friend's daughter Karina Yershova. The pain is terrible."
It has also been claimed that Putin is recruiting a "Kids’ Army" to swell troop numbers in Ukraine, according to human rights officials.
The Russian president is said to be trawling youth clubs and conscripting 16-year-olds to replace the estimated 30,000 soldiers killed, wounded or captured in the invasion.
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