Ukraine’s foreign minister has warned that mass killings of civilians in Bucha are just the “tip of the iceberg” of Russian atrocities in the country.
Dmytro Kuleba said the scenes in the port city of Mariupol, surrounded by Russian troops, were far worse than in Bucha and other cities outside of Kyiv.
Hundreds of bodies have been discovered, some in mass graves, others left to rot in sacks, since Vladimir Putin’s forces withdrew from Bucha.
At a press conference in Warsaw with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, British Foreign Secretary Kuleba said the “horror acts” in Bucha and other towns and cities called for tougher sanctions.
“I can tell you without exaggeration but with great sadness that the situation in Mariupol is much worse compared to what we saw in Bucha and other towns and villages near Kyiv,” he said.
“Half measures are no longer enough. I am demanding the toughest sanctions this week, this is the request of the victims of the rapes and murders. If you have doubts about sanctions, go to Bucha first.”
It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy left the country’s capital, Kyiv, on his first reported trip since the war began on February 24.
He described the Bucha scene as evidence of “genocide” and “war crimes,” with bodies “found in barrels, cellars, strangled, tortured.”
In an address to the Romanian parliament, Zelenskyi said he feared there were places where worse atrocities had taken place.
“The military tortured people and we have every reason to believe many more people were killed,” he said. “Much more than we now know.”
The Kremlin continues to deny responsibility for civilian killings committed during the war.
Russia’s envoy to the United Nations previously claimed Moscow was preparing to submit “empirical evidence” to its Security Council that Vladimir Putin’s forces did not kill civilians in Ukraine and were not involved in the events in Bucha.
“We have empirical evidence for this,” said Vasily Nebenzya.
“We intend to submit them to the Security Council as soon as possible so that the international community is not misled by the false conspiracy of Kyiv and its Western sponsors.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss promised her Ukrainian counterpart Mr Kubela that Britain would act “to the maximum extent of sanctions” against Russia over the “appalling atrocities” committed by Putin’s forces.
Ms Truss said: “The idea that we should wait until something else bad happens is completely wrong.
“The worst has already happened. We have already seen appalling atrocities committed with complete impunity in Ukraine.
“That’s why we want to go to the maximum level of sanctions with our allies and partners, and that’s why we are pulling out all the stops to give Ukraine the support it needs to end this appalling war that must mean Putin in the losing Ukraine.”