The Ukrainian President says Russia is prohibiting organizations from providing food and water to civilians, calling the military’s actions ‘inhuman’

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The exhumation of civilian bodies from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 13.
The exhumation of civilian bodies from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 13. (Anatolii Siryk/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Russian forces “must face justice for a series of war crimes” committed in the region northwest of Kyiv, Amnesty International said Friday at a press briefing in the Ukrainian capital following an investigation it conducted in the country.

The investigation, based “on dozens of interviews and extensive review of material evidence,” has documented “unlawful air strikes on Borodyanka, and extrajudicial executions in other towns and villages including Bucha, Andriivka, Zdvyzhivka and Vorzel.”

An Amnesty International delegation spoke with survivors, families of victims and senior Ukrainian officials, the watchdog said. 

“The pattern of crimes committed by Russian forces that we have documented includes both unlawful attacks and willful killings of civilians,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said in a statement.

“We have met families whose loved ones were killed in horrific attacks, and whose lives have changed forever because of the Russian invasion. We support their demands for justice, and call on the Ukrainian authorities, the International Criminal Court and others to ensure evidence is preserved that could support future war crime prosecutions,” she said. “It is vital that all those responsible, including up the chain of command, are brought to justice.”

During 12 days of investigations, Amnesty researchers interviewed residents in Bucha, Borodianka, Novyi Korohod, Andriivka, Zdvyzhivka, Vorzel, Makariv and Dmytrivka, and “visited sites of numerous killings,” Amnesty said.

In Borodianka, Amnesty International found that “at least 40 civilians were killed in disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks, which devastated an entire neighborhood and left thousands of people homeless.”

In Bucha and several other towns and villages located northwest of Kyiv, Amnesty documented “22 cases of unlawful killings by Russian forces, most of which were apparent extrajudicial executions.”

On March 1 and March 2, a series of Russian air strikes hit eight residential buildings in the town of Borodianka, which were home to more than 600 families, Amnesty said. 

“The strikes killed at least 40 residents and destroyed the buildings, as well as dozens of surrounding buildings and houses. Most of the victims were killed in the buildings’ basements, where they had sought shelter. Others died in their apartments,” Amnesty said. 

Amnesty called for all those responsible for war crimes to be held criminally responsible for their actions. “Under the doctrine of command responsibility, hierarchal superiors – including commanders and civilian leaders, such as ministers and heads of state – who knew or had reason to know about war crimes committed by their forces, but did not attempt to stop them or punish those responsible, should also be held criminally responsible,” Amnesty said.