'Do it for the victims of rape and torture': Ukraine demands tougher sanctions on Russia

ITV News Reporter Geraint Vincent reports on the swift and complete international condemnation of the mass graves discovered in Ukraine

Ukraine has urged the West to hit Russia with "the most severe sanctions" to starve Vladimir Putin's military machine of finances after the invaders were accused of carrying out war crimes.

Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country is preparing for Russia to carry out a new offensive in Ukraine's east after hundreds of civilian bodies were found in Bucha, a city near Kyiv.

But he said scenes in Bucha were the "tip of the iceberg" compared to places such as besieged Mariupol, which has been under repeated Russian shelling.

Places like this "demand serious G7 and EU sanctions", Mr Kuleba said in a plea to the West, adding: "This is not the request of Ukraine’s foreign minister, this is the plea of the victims of rape, torture and killings."

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He was speaking at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, alongside Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said Russia "must be suspended" from the UN Human Rights Council over suspected war crimes.

The Cabinet minister wrote on Twitter: "Given strong evidence of war crimes, including reports of mass graves and heinous butchery in Bucha, Russia cannot remain a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Russia must be suspended."

It comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian soldiers are "butchers" responsible for “concentrated evil".

In a video address on Sunday, he denounced the alleged targeted killings of civilians in towns the Russians occupied, calling them "killers, executioners, rapists, marauders who call themselves an army."

His foreign minister, Mr Kuleba said Ukraine is now "preparing for the new large-scale offensive by Russia in eastern Ukraine".

“They will try to capture more territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, they will try to entrench and root themselves in the Kherson region, they will try to capture bleeding Mariupol.

“What you have seen, the horrors that we have seen in Bucha are just the tip of the iceberg of all the crimes that have been committed by the Russian army in the territory of Ukraine so far.

“And I can tell you without exaggeration but with great sorrow that the situation in Mariupol is much worse, compared to what we have seen in Bucha and other cities, towns and villages nearby Kyiv.”

Ms Truss said the UK wants to “go to the maximum level of sanctions” against Russia after “appalling atrocities” in Ukraine.

She added: “What I want to be very clear about is the UK is taking the maximum approach.

“We are taking the maximum approach on sanctions, as far as we are concerned nothing is off the table.

“We are taking the maximum approach on weapons, in terms of what we can supply to Ukraine. In fact that is one of the issues that Dmytro (Kuleba, Ukrainian foreign minister) and I have been discussing today.”

"The EU is divided" over sanctions on Russia, with many of the bloc's countries reliant on Russian gas and oil, reports Sangita Lal

Ms Truss has also announced £10 million of support for organisations working with survivors of sexual violence in Ukraine.

She said: “We will continue to support those who are suffering as a result of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, including the victims of sexual violence and those in need of humanitarian support."

Ukrainian troops found brutalised bodies and widespread destruction in suburbs of the capital as Russian soldiers withdrew from the region, according to reports.

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Local authorities reported indications of execution-style killing and other alleged war crimes, while the nation's prosecutor-general said the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from recaptured towns.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Zelenskyy, said scores of killed civilians were found on the streets of Bucha and the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel in what looked like a “scene from a horror movie".

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers is in the city, where "atrocities on a sickening scale are being uncovered".

He's heard accounts of rape and mass executions, and was shown mass graves in the city after the Russians withdrew.

Some of the dead were buried by friends near their homes in marked graves, but many more were hastily buried in mass graves, with no headstones or even identification.

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers on the horrors found after Ukraine recaptured the city of Bucha

This video contains distressing images

One grave he was shown held around 280 bodies in two rows - one side for dead Russians and the other for Ukrainians.

One man told Dan Rivers of the rape and murder of a young woman at the hands of two Chechen soldiers who he and another man later killed. 

Kyiv's mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said civilians were “shot with joined hands” and told German newspaper Bild that “what happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide".

Mr Klitschko called on other nations to immediately end Russian gas imports, saying they were funding the invasion of Ukraine, now in its 39th day.

“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 mayor said.