The Kremlin has categorically rejected accusations that Russian forces were responsible for killing civilians in Bucha, suggesting images of corpses lining the streets were “fakes”.
Journalists from international media over the weekend found corpses in civilian clothes – some with their hands bound – in Bucha after Ukrainian forces retook the town on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, from the Russian army.
Ukrainian authorities said on Sunday they were investigating possible war crimes, while Western leaders erupted in outrage over the deaths.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the facts and chronology of the events in Bucha did not support Ukraine’s version of events.
He said Russian “experts at the Ministry of Defence have identified signs of video fakes and various fakes”, without elaborating.
“We would demand that many international leaders do not rush to sweeping accusations and at least listen to our arguments,” he added.
Peskov also said Russia’s diplomats would press on with their efforts to convene a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss what Moscow has called “Ukrainian provocations” in Bucha despite their first effort to arrange such a meeting being blocked.
Peskov declined to comment on whether the furore over Bucha would affect peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv, which had been set to resume via video conference on Monday.
On Monday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called for an international investigation into what he termed a “genocide” carried out by Russian troops in Ukraine, including in Bucha.
“These bloody massacres committed by Russians, by Russian soldiers, deserve to be called what they are. This is genocide and it must be judged,” Morawiecki told reporters.
“This is why we are proposing an international commission to investigate this crime of genocide.”
Such a commission “is essential if we want to find out the truth on the extent of Russian fascist crimes”.
Morawiecki also called for new Western sanctions against Russia and compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to autocrats from the past.
“Clear and determined sanctions are necessary. These sanctions are not working,” Morawiecki said.
He also addressed French President Emmanuel Macron, saying: “How many times have you negotiated with Putin and what have you achieved? We do not discuss, we do not negotiate with criminals. Criminals have to be fought against.”
“Nobody negotiated with Hitler. Would you negotiate with Hitler, with Stalin, with Pol Pot?”
Addressing German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Morawiecki said: “It is not the voices of German business leaders, of German billionaires who are probably stopping you from taking action, that should be listened to in Berlin today but the voices of innocent women and children.”