President Biden brands Russia's war 'genocide' as Bucha mayor says at least 400 bodies found

Volunteers load bodies of civilians killed in Bucha onto a truck to be taken to a morgue for investigation
Volunteers load bodies of civilians killed in Bucha onto a truck to be taken to a morgue for investigation. Credit: AP

US President Joe Biden has said Russia’s war in Ukraine amounts to a “genocide,” accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to “wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.”“Yes, I called it genocide,” he told reporters in Iowa on Tuesday shortly before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington. Mr Biden’s comments drew praise from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who had encouraged Western leaders to use the term to describe Russia’s invasion of his country.

Past American leaders have dodged formally declaring bloody campaigns as genocide, hesitating to trigger an obligation that under international convention requires signing United Nations countries to intervene once genocide is formally identified. Mr Biden said it would be up to lawyers to decide if Russia’s conduct met the international standard for genocide, as Ukrainian officials have claimed, but said “it sure seems that way to me".The mayor of Bucha in Ukraine has outlined the devastating consequences of Russian occupation in the town and neighbouring villages, saying the bodies of 403 people have so far been found.

Anatoliy Fedoruk warned this figure would likely grow, as the extent of the atrocities committed in Bucha, a town near Kyiv, continues to be revealed since its recapture by Ukrainian forces some two weeks ago.

Mr Fedoruk, who has said that at least three sites of mass shootings of civilians have been unearthed by investigators, added that it was too early for residents to return to the town.

A wealthy northwest Kyiv commuter town before Ukraine was invaded over six weeks ago, the name of Bucha is now synonymous with Russian war crimes.

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ITV News has investigated three separate atrocities in Bucha which reflect the wider indiscriminate assaults carried out by invading forces during the war.

One of these was the death of Dmitro Stefianko.

According to witness testimony, he was shot dead by the side of a road by Russian troops in March after encountering half a dozen of them on his way to look for supplies.

Mr Stefianko's body eventually ended up in a mass grave next to St Andrew’s Church in the town with dozens of other civilians.

Dmitro had left the home of his mother to look for supplies with another man just after 10am. Credit: ITV News

Our investigation found multiple locations in Bucha where there is evidence Russian soldiers were engaged in orchestrated murder. We investigated two of these massacres. One was discovered on April 1 in the cellar of a Soviet-era children’s camp on the edge of a large park in Bucha. The bodies of five men were found in the basement. Two miles to the south of the children’s camp is the site of another mass killing, where at least 11 people were murdered.

The bodies of men bearing signs of torture were found to the side of an agriculture construction agency next to a builders yard, in a residential area.

After six weeks of intense bombardment in the besieged city of Mariupol, there are now claims that chemical weapons have been used, reports Correspondent Peter Smith

Still, Russian officials have denied hitting civilian targets, deriding the mounting documentation of atrocities as “fake news”.

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers, who was in Bucha last week, had 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 interned in mass graves, with no headstones or even identification.