LVIV: Russian artillery bombarded Ukrainian cities on Wednesday, as Ukraine’s president urged the West to act decisively in imposing new, tougher restrictions on trade with Russia in response to civilian killings widely condemned as war crimes.
The United States announced new sanctions, including on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters, days after grim images emerged of the bodies of civilians shot at close range in the town of Bucha when it was retaken from Russian forces.
Pope Francis, without apportioning blame, described the killings as a “massacre” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the West needed to do more to rein in Russia.
“I can’t tolerate any indecisiveness after everything that Russian troops have done,” Zelenskiy told Irish lawmakers by videolink.
Some Western leaders “still think that war and war crimes are not something as horrific as financial losses”, he added.
Western policymakers have denounced the killings in Bucha as a war crime, and Ukrainian officials say a mass grave by a church there contained between 150 and 300 bodies. Satellite images taken weeks ago in the town, situated north of the capital Kyiv, show bodies of civilians on a street, a private U.S. company said.
Moscow denied targeting civilians there or elsewhere. Russia’s foreign ministry said that images of dead bodies in Bucha were staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow and derail peace talks with Kyiv.
Russia refers to its Feb. 24 invasion as a “special military operation” designed to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and Western governments reject that as a false pretext to invade a democratic country.
Russia forces regrouping to attack south, Ukraine president warns
The war has killed thousands, turned entire cities into rubble and left a quarter of Ukraine’s population homeless. As it heads into its seventh week, the risk that it could escalate into a broader conflict remains a concern.
Reflecting such fears, the EU executive said it had begun a stockpiling operation to boost its defences against chemical, nuclear and biological threats.
A siege of the southern port of Mariupol continued on Wednesday, trapping tens of thousands of residents without food, water or power.