Satellite images show civilian deaths in Bucha by Russians, US firm says, Kremlin calling it ‘fake’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the corpses were ‘staged’

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Satellite images taken weeks ago of the town of Bucha in Ukraine show bodies of civilians on a street, a private US company said, undermining claims by the Russian government that Ukrainian forces caused the death or that the scene was staged.

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Maxar Technologies provided nine images taken of Bucha on March 18, 19 and 31 to Reuters. At least four of the images appear to show bodies on one of the city’s roads, Yablonska Street. The city was occupied by Russian forces until around March 30.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the corpses were “staged” and images of them and what he said were a fake Ukrainian version of events were circulated on social media by the Western countries and Ukraine.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, said Moscow would present “empirical evidence” to the Security Council that its forces did not kill civilians in Ukraine and were not implicated in the Bucha events.

“It’s just a well-directed, but tragic spectacle,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “It’s a fake aimed at denigrating the Russian military – and it won’t work.”

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“We once again urge the international community: detach from these emotional perceptions and think with your head,” Peskov said. “Compare the facts and understand what a monstrous fake we are dealing with.

The Security Council is due to meet later on Tuesday.

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The New York Times, which received a separate set of images of Bucha from Maxar, analyzed the footage in an April 4 article, comparing it to video taken at street level that showed the same scenes and confirming the location of bodies. His analysis, he said, confirmed the accuracy of the satellite images.

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“High-resolution Maxar satellite images collected over Bucha, Ukraine (northwest of Kyiv) verify and corroborate recent social media videos and photos that reveal bodies lying in the streets and left out in the open. for weeks,” Maxar said in an email. to Reuters, which also included analysis of the images.

Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian forces of carrying out a “massacre” in Bucha and say 300 residents were killed there during a month-long occupation. Ukrainian troops retook the town last week.

Jeffrey Lewis, a satellite imagery expert who has seen the Maxar images, described the process of deducing what the images meant as “very simple”.

“You see ground images that show bodies in relation to cars and buildings, and on satellite images you can see the bumps on the ground in the same position next to the same cars and buildings.

“What the satellite images show is that the bodies were there while the Russians controlled the area,” said Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

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The Pentagon said Monday it could not independently confirm the atrocity accounts but had no reason to dispute them.

A Reuters reporter saw several dead civilians in the city, including one with his hands tied behind his back. Local residents said hundreds of civilians had been killed.

Bucha Deputy Mayor Taras Shapravskyi said 50 of the dead residents, found after Russian forces withdrew from the town late last week, were victims of extrajudicial executions carried out by Russian troops. Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, have accused Moscow of war crimes.

“These are war crimes and will be recognized by the world as genocide,” Zelenskiy said, speaking on television from Bucha, wearing a bulletproof vest and surrounded by military personnel.

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The deaths in Bucha, outside kyiv, have drawn Western attention to new sanctions on Moscow, including perhaps some restrictions on the billions of dollars of energy Europe still imports from Russia.

President Joe Biden has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes and called for a war crimes trial.

The Kremlin said Biden’s comments were unacceptable and unbecoming of a leader of the United States.

The European Commission is to propose sweeping new sanctions against Russia, including a ban on imports of coal, rubber, chemicals and other products, a European source told Reuters.

The Russian economy is already heading for its biggest economic contraction since the years following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 after the West largely excluded Russia from the Western financial system and sanctioned its businessmen. richer.

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Russia presents evidence of civilian executions in Bucha as a cyclical ploy by Ukraine and its Western supporters, who Moscow says are gripped by discriminatory anti-Russian paranoia.

“These are fakes that have matured in the cynical imagination of Ukrainian propaganda,” Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said of Bucha.

Medvedev said the fakes were concocted for large sums of money by Western PR firms and “tamed” non-governmental organizations. He did not provide specific evidence.

He suggested that Ukrainian forces were prepared to kill their own citizens in an effort to discredit Russia.

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The Russian Defense Ministry said it had evidence that Ukraine’s 72nd Main Psychological Operations Center helped organize such propaganda in a village 23 km (14 miles) northwest of kyiv as well as in Sumy, Konotop and other cities.

Russia hasn’t released evidence for its claims, but it says Western media have provided an overly partial account of the war in Ukraine that largely ignores Russia’s concerns about NATO expansion and persecution. Russian speakers.

“The West collective has closed its eyes and ears and does not want to listen to anything,” Peskov said.

Moscow wondered why, if its forces withdrew from Bucha on March 30 and Bucha’s mayor declared the area free of Russian forces on March 31, the bodies of dead civilians were not shown for the first time as April 3.

Russia also claims that the bodies shown in some images did not show the characteristic signs of degradation that one would expect after a certain number of days.

Putin said the “special military operation” in Ukraine was necessary because the United States was using Ukraine to threaten Russia and Moscow had to defend Ukraine’s Russian speakers from persecution.

Ukraine has dismissed Putin’s persecution claims and says Russia is waging an unprovoked war of aggression.

(Reporting by Gerry Doyle and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Hugh Lawson and Nick Macfie)

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