KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian troops.
Iryna Venediktova says on Facebook that the bodies were recovered Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She says 140 of them have undergone examination by prosecutors and other specialists.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says the mayor of the village of Motyzhyn in the Kyiv region was murdered while being held by Russian forces. Vereshchuk adds that there are 11 mayors and community heads in Russian captivity across Ukraine.
In a video address Sunday, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the allegedly targeted killings of civilians in towns that the Russians occupied, calling the killers “freaks who do not know how to do otherwise.” He warns that more atrocities may be revealed if Russian forces are driven out of other occupied areas.
International leaders have condemned the reported attacks in the Kyiv-area towns after harrowing accounts from civilians and graphic images of bodies with hands tied behind their backs.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected the claims of atrocities against civilians in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Ukraine accuses Russia of massacre, city strewn with bodies
— US, UK secret intelligence has unusually public role in Ukraine war
— Lithuania weans itself completely off Russian gas, 1st EU nation to do so
— Drug shortages persist in Russia after start of Ukraine war
— Pope still working on meeting Russian Orthodox patriarch
— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
BALAKLIYA, Ukraine — The governor of the Kharkiv region says Russian troops fired on a convoy of buses that was trying to evacuate patients from a hospital that had been heavily damaged in shelling a day earlier.
The governor, Oleh Synyehubov, said Sunday that about 70 patients needed to be taken away from the damaged hospital in the town of Balakliya but that the buses were not able to enter the town.
He said there was preliminary information that one of the bus drivers was killed.
Balakliya is about 75 kilometers (45 miles) southeast of the city of Kharkiv, which has been heavily hit by Russian attacks.
BERLIN — Germany's defense minister says European officials should talk about halting gas supplies from Russia in light of the alleged attacks on civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Sunday night on German public broadcaster ARD that “there must be a reaction. Such crimes must not go unanswered.”
So far, Germany and several other European governments have shied away from an immediate boycott of Russian natural gas over fears of the impact it would have on their economies.
Europe gets 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil from Russia, and since the war, has scrambled to set out proposals to reduce its dependency. Russia is just as reliant on Europe, with oil and gas its dominant sector and paying for government operations.
Estimates of the impact of a gas boycott or embargo on Europe vary but most involve a substantial loss of economic output.
JERUSALEM __ Israel’s foreign minister is condemning the reported atrocities in Ukraine, saying deliberate harm to civilians is a war crime.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter that one “cannot remain indifferent” after seeing images from the town of Bucha near Ukraine capital.
Israel has walked a tightrope since Russia invaded Ukraine, simultaneously denouncing the invasion while avoiding taking too strident a stance out of concern of angering Moscow, with whom it has security coordination in neighboring Syria. Israel has good relations with both countries and has mediated between them since the invasion on Feb. 24.
Lapid says that intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime and strongly condemned it.
MOTYZHYN, Ukraine — A resident says the mayor of the Ukrainian town of Motyzhyn was killed in an execution-style slaying along with her husband and son.
Another resident of the town 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Kyiv told the The Associated Press on Sunday that Russian troops targeted local officials in a bid to win them over and killed them if they did not collaborate. That man, Oleg, declined to give his full name for security reasons.
The mayor, Olga Sukhenko, and her family were shot and thrown into a pit in a forest behind a plot of land with three houses where Russian forces had slept. A fourth body was not yet identified.
The mayor and her family had been reported by others as kidnapped by Russians on March 23 and taken in an unknown direction.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russia’s attack on Ukranian civilians in towns on the outskirts of Kyiv “are yet more evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine.”
Johnson called the attacks in the towns of Irpin and Bucha “despicable” and says he “will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine.” Johnson added that the U.K. will step up its sanctions and military support for Ukraine, but did not provide details.
Other European leaders also condemned the reported attacks on Ukranian civilians in response to images of bodies in the streets and some of the dead with their hands tied behind their backs.
Leaders in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic and Poland expressed outrage at the images. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the images ”horrifying” and says Russia has been committing war crimes.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says international organizations should be given access to the areas to independently document the atrocities.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says his country will work with Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court “to ensure these acts don’t go unpunished.”
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the graphic images coming out of Bucha, Ukraine, after Russian troops withdrew show “a brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe for decades.’’
He tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that “it’s absolutely unacceptable that civilians are targeted and killed” and that it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin’s responsibility to stop the war.
Stoltenberg says it’s “extremely important” that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine and that those responsible are held to account.
His comments echoed those by other European leaders, who condemned alleged war crimes and civilian killings by Russian forces in Ukrainian towns including Bucha near Kyiv, the capital.
BUCHA, Ukraine — Residents of the Ukrainian town of Bucha near the capital of Kyiv have given harrowing accounts of how Russian troops shot and killed civilians without any apparent reason.
Bodies of civilians lay strewn across the northern town, which was controlled by Russian soldiers for about a month.
At a logistics compound that residents say was used as a base by Russian forces, the bodies of 8 men could be seen dumped on the ground, some with their hands tied behind their backs.
Residents say Russian troops would go from building to building, take people out of the basements where they were hiding from the fighting, check their phones for evidence of anti-Russian activity and take them away or shoot them.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected the claims of atrocities against civilians in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv as a “provocation.”
The ministry says that “not a single civilian has faced any violent action by the Russian military“ in Bucha.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told a U.S. television interview Sunday that Russian attacks in Ukraine amount to genocide.
ROME — The head of Italy’s Democratic Party called for a full oil and gas embargo in reaction to images emerging of atrocities against civilians by Russian soldiers retreating from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
“How many #Buca before we move to a full oil and gas Russia embargo,” Enrico Letta wrote on Twitter Sunday. “Time is over.”
Italy gets 40% of its natural gas from Russia and officials have said it would take three years to make the transition to other sources.
Premier Mario Draghi acknowledged last week that energy payments were fueling Russia’s invasion, and the foreign minister has been traveling to oil and gas producing countries to line up alternatives to Russia.
WASHINGTON — White House chief of staff Ron Klain says the U.S. remains fully committed to providing a full range of economic and military support to Ukraine in its war against Russia, which he describes as “far from over.”
Klain credits Ukrainians for fighting off Russian troops in the northern part of Ukraine and says the U.S. and its allies are sending weapons into the country “almost every single day.”
But he also tells ABC’s “This Week” that there are signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin is redeploying Russian troops to the eastern part of Ukraine.
Klain says while it will be up to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to decide if the political endgame is to allow Russia to occupy the eastern part of Ukraine, from the U.S. standpoint, the “military future of this attack has to be push back.”
He says regarding a potential Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine: “I will tell you, as President Zelenskyy has said, that’s not acceptable to him, and we are going to support him with military aid, with economic aid, with humanitarian aid.”
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says in a U.S. television interview that Russian attacks in Ukraine amount to genocide.
Zelenskyy told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that there are more than 100 nationalities in Ukraine and “this is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities. We are citizens of Ukraine and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of Russian Federation.”
In an excerpt of the interview released by CBS before it aired, he says, “This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated. And this is happening in the Europe of the 21st century. So this is the torture of the whole nation.”
KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian military says Russian troops have completed their pullback from the country’s north.
The military’s General Staff said in Sunday’s statement that Russian units have withdrawn from areas in the country’s north to neighboring Belarus, which served as a staging ground for the Russian invasion.
The Ukrainian military said its airborne forces have taken full control of the town of Pripyat just outside the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the section of the border with Belarus. It posted a picture of the Ukrainian soldier putting up the country’s flag with a shelter containing the Chernobyl reactor that exploded in 1986 seen in the background.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania says it has cut itself off entirely of gas imports from Russia and that it’s the first of the European Union’s 27 nations using Russian gas to break its energy dependence upon Moscow.
“Seeking full energy independence from Russian gas, in response to Russia’s energy blackmail in Europe and the war in Ukraine, Lithuania has completely abandoned Russian gas,” Lithuania’s energy ministry said in a statement late Saturday, adding that the measure took effect in the beginning of April.
Lithuania reduced imports of Russian gas to zero on Saturday, a move seen a milestone in achieving energy independence in the former Soviet republic of 2.8 million, the ministry said.
“We are the first EU country among Gazprom’s supply countries to gain independence from Russian gas supplies, and this is the result of a multi-year coherent energy policy and timely infrastructure decisions,” Minister of Energy Dainius Kreivys said.
Lithuania’a president posted an upbeat tweet on his account and urged other European nations to do the same.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s top diplomat has called for tougher sanctions on Russia over growing evidence of what he called a massacre of civilians in the suburbs of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
Ukrainian officials said earlier Sunday that scores of killed civilians have been found on the streets of Kyiv’ suburbs of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel after the withdrawal of Russian troops. They said that some of the victims were shot in the head and had their hands bound.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Sunday that the killings were “deliberate,” adding that “Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can.”
He urged the West to impose an oil, gas and coal embargo, and close all ports to Russian vessels and goods. He also called for all Russian banks to be disconnected from the SWIFT international payment system.
In Germany President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Berlin that “the war crimes committed by Russia are visible before the eyes of the world.”
German news agency dpa reported that Steinmeier said “the images from Bucha shake me, they shake us deeply.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledged to tighten sanctions against Russia but did not give details.
BERLIN — Poland’s most powerful politician says he is open to the permanent stationing of U.S. nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party, Law and Justice, said Sunday in an interview with German weekly Welt am Sonntag that “in principle, it makes sense to extend nuclear participation to the eastern flank.”
Kaczynski added that “if the Americans asked us to store U.S. nuclear weapons in Poland, we would be open to it. It would significantly strengthen deterrence against Moscow.”
Kaczynski acknowledged that “at the moment, this question does not arise, but that may change soon.”
The Polish leader also called for a much stronger presence of U.S. soldiers in Europe in the future, especially on NATO’s eastern flank.
He said that “Poland would welcome an increase in the American presence in Europe in the future from the current 100,000 soldiers to 150,000 soldiers because of Russia’s increasing aggressiveness.”
MOSCOW — The Kremlin says that by imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin the West has demonstrated it has abandoned its sense of reason.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in televised remarks Sunday that the sanctions against Putin were going “beyond the edge of reason,” adding that they showed that the West is “capable of any stupidities.”
Peskov added that Putin’s meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is “hypothetically possible” once negotiators from the two countries prepared a draft agreement to be discussed.
BERLIN — German authorities have registered more than 300,000 refugees from Ukraine since the outbreak of the war there last month.
The interior ministry tweeted Sunday that “to date, federal police has registered 303,474 refugees from Ukraine in Germany. Most of them are women, children and old people.”
The numbers of Ukrainian refugees in the country are thought to be much higher as Ukrainians can enter Germany without visas and there are no thorough controls along the Polish-German border.
Up to 10,000 arrived at Berlin's train station on some days. Recently the flow of refugees has slowed down from up to 15,000 new arrivals nationwide to around 5,000 to 7,000 new refugees per day.
Overall, more than 4.17 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24. Most sought refuge in neighboring Poland.
KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian presidential adviser says authorities have found evidence of serious war crimes by Russian troops on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Sunday scores of killed civilians have been found on the streets of Kyiv’ suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel after the withdrawal of Russian troops. He compared the scene to “a horror movie.”
Arestovych said some victims were shot in the head and had their hands bound, and some of the bodies had signs of torture. He accused Russian troops of raping women and trying to burn their bodies.
Arestovych said Ukrainian authorities will investigate the alleged war crimes and track down the perpetrators.
The reports drew international condemnation. In Britain, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said there is increasing evidence of “indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians” and said they must be investigated as war crimes.
“We will not allow Russia to cover up their involvement in these atrocities through cynical disinformation and will ensure that the reality of Russia’s actions are brought to light,” she said.
MOSCOW — Russia’s top negotiator in talks with Ukraine says it’s too early to talk about a meeting between the two countries’ president.
Vladimir Medinsky, who led the Russian delegation in Tuesday’s talks in Istanbul, Turkey, said “there is still a lot of work to do” to finalize a draft agreement before Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could meet.
Speaking Sunday in remarks carried by the Interfax news agency, Medinsky reaffirmed that the parties reached a tentative agreement on the need for Ukraine to adopt a neutral status and refrain from holding foreign military bases in exchange for international security guarantees.
Asked about Ukrainian negotiator Davyd Arakhamia’s claim that Moscow’s negotiators had informally agreed to most proposals by Ukraine during the talks in Istanbul this week and the two presidents could discuss the draft deal, Medinsky said he doesn’t share Arakhamia’s optimism. He said the talks will continue online Monday.
Medinsky emphasized that Russia’s stand on Crimea and rebel regions in Ukraine’s east remained unchanged. The Kremlin demands that Ukraine acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and recognize the independence of Russia-backed separatist regions in Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.
BERLIN — The mayor of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has expressed shock at what he called “cruel war crimes” committed by Russian soldiers in the town of Bucha northwest of the capital.
Referring to reports of executed civilians, Klitschko told German daily Bild on Sunday that “what happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide.”
An AP crew on Sunday saw the bodies of at least nine people who appear to have been executed. At least two of them had their hands tied behind their backs. They were all in civilian clothes and at least three were naked from the waist up. One appeared shot in the chest from close range.
Klitschko said Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for the “cruel war crimes,” adding that civilians had been “shot with tied hands.”
He called on the the whole world and especially Germany to immediately end gas imports from Russia.
He said that “especially for Germany, there can only be one consequence: Not a penny should go to Russia anymore, that’s bloody money used to slaughter people. The gas and oil embargo must come immediately.”
The Russian military says it has struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots around the strategic Black Sea port of Odesa.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russian ships and aircraft fired missiles on Sunday to strike the facilities, which he said were used to provide fuel to Ukrainian troops near Mykolaiv.
Konashenkov also said Russian strikes destroyed ammunition depots in Kostiantynivka and Khresyshche.
In a message posted by Italian news agency ANSA, Italian photographer Carlo Orlandi said Odesa woke to military sirens at 5:45 a.m. Sunday, followed immediately by the sounds of bombs falling on the port city from two aircraft.
He described a column of dark smoke rising from the targets, and flames from the buildings.
“What we can see is a dense screen of dark smoke, and one explosion after the other,″ Orlandi said.