The Ukrainian Army Liberates Territory From Russian Invaders and Discovers Murdered Civilians

AP Photo/Vadim Zamirovsky

The Russian Army is retreating all along the northern border of Ukraine. The official Russian version for the retreat is that this is a Five Dimensional Chess move by Grandmaster Vlad, which was part of the plan all along. A more rational view is that the units that attacked on February 24 have been substantially degraded and are being pulled back across the border with Belarus and Russia to rearm and refit, and take on replacements for casualties.


The dark line represents the furthest advance by the Russian Army; the pink areas are those still under Russian control.

As Ukrainian troops advance, they are beginning to uncover evidence of war crimes committed by Russian troops against Ukrainian civilians. A town that has been particularly hard hit is Bucha, a western suburb of Kiev. Bucha was occupied by the Russians on February 27 and was officially returned to Ukrainian control on Friday. What the Russians left behind was not pretty. Civilian structures, like a confectioner’s shop, were mined and booby-trapped. This isn’t something that is terribly professional or particularly legal, but this is the behavior of the Russian Army that is being discussed. And they left behind streets strewn with dead civilians and at least one mass grave.



The context that led these Ukrainian civilians to die in the street is missing. Some might be legitimate collateral damage or even combatants. What is harder to explain is the dead people with their hands tied behind their backs.

Video posted to social media on Saturday and verified by The Washington Post showed at least nine people, including one child, lying in the street of a residential area in the town of Bucha, north of Kyiv, after Russian forces retreated. They appear to be dead.

One, still atop a bicycle, lies at the corner of an intersection. He is tilted as though he was about to make a right hand turn. Others are huddled together on the side of the road.

As the driver weaves between bodies, burned out cars and fallen trees, a narrator says “If you say that Russian soldiers are people …” and then adds, “simply for general understanding of what happened here.”

Bucha’s mayor, Anatoly Fedoruk, told The Washington Post by phone that around 270 local residents had been buried in two mass graves. He also said about 40 people were lying in the streets but that it was difficult to get a count. Some of the bodies had their hands bound or were shot in the back of the head, he said.

Fedoruk said the bodies would not be touched until security services determine that they are not rigged with explosive devices.

“Until the special services give us an answer to the question of whether we can safely bury them according to Christian custom, we can’t handle the bodies,” he said.


Just a brief note here. Some outlets report that 270 (or 300) civilians had been found in a mass grave.

I don’t believe that is accurate, as the Russians aren’t bothering to bury their own dead. I think that the mayor’s statement about burying the town’s citizens in a mass grave is being misinterpreted as something entirely different. Be that as it may, ominous signs of summary executions have also been found in the Kiev suburbs of Irpin and Motyzhyn.


While the probability is that the killings are just the result of the Russian Army being the Russian Army, another possibility can’t be discounted. Before the invasion, there were reports that the FSB had developed “kill lists” of Ukrainians to be “liquidated.”

As the refugee stream increases, there are more and more stories surfacing about the systematic rape of Ukrainian women by the Russian invaders.
“I shot your husband because he was a Nazi,” the gunman told her, before he and the other soldier raped her, as her 4-year-old son sobbed in a boiler room next door, according to the Times. She said she was later raped a second time by the soldiers, and eventually managed to flee to western Ukraine with her son.

Accounts of rape and sexual violence began to emerge almost immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine, according to Kateryna Busol, an associate with Chatham House and a Ukrainian lawyer who documented allegations of sexual violence following Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“These accounts are growing, and we are hearing that they are much more widespread than the one account raised by the inspector general,” Ms. Busol said in a phone interview from Regensburg, Germany, where she fled from Kyiv in the days following the invasion.


If you know anything about the record of the Red Army in Poland and what would become the Eastern zone of Germany during World War II, this is no shock. This is quintessential Russian behavior. It has also taken place in Chechnya. Vladimir Putin’s attempts to whip up a nationalist fury by denigrating the Ukrainians as “nazis” and the perpetrators of “genocide” in Donbas undoubtedly contributed to what appears to be a general policy that sanctioned murder and looting.

At the conclusion of this tragedy, the international community must investigate Russian actions in Ukraine, from planning an unprovoked war of aggression to targeting civilian targets to murder, rape, and looting carried out by rank-and-file Russian soldiers. It will probably be impossible ever to bring the perpetrators to justice, but we can create a record to document who and what Putin and his Russia are.


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