Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday said the Russian leadership was responsible for civilian killings in Bucha, near Kyiv, where bodies were found lying on a street following a Russian troop withdrawal. Zelensky slammed “the torture of the whole nation” amid international condemnations and calls for an investigation. Read our live blog to see how all the day’s events unfolded.
4:20 am: Russia seeks Monday UN Security Council meet on Bucha, Ukraine
Moscow has called for a special UN Security Council meeting Monday to address claims that Russian forces committed atrocities against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv.
“In the light of heinous provocation of Ukrainian radicals in #Bucha Russia requested a meeting of UN #SecurityCouncil on Monday April 4,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday on Twitter.
Ukraine and Western leaders have erupted in outrage over the discovery of mass graves and hundreds of dead people in Bucha, a small town northwest of Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly blamed Moscow for the “killings” of civilians.
Russia denied the accusations and said Kyiv staged footage of the corpses.
A senior Washington official swiftly slammed Moscow’s UN move and said it was designed to “feign outrage.”
4:14 am: France 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports on the devastation wrought by Russian forces in the Kyiv region.
Gulliver Cragg reports from the Kyiv region
4:00 am: Ukraine’s Zelensky appears in taped video at Grammys
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise appearance at the Grammys in Sunday, urging support for his country and asking the industry’s top artists to “fill the silence” brought by war with music.
Zelensky delivered his pre-taped message ahead of a performance from John Legend of the song “Free,” joined by Ukrainian singer Mika Newton, musician Siuzanna Iglidan and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk.
“What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people,” Zelensky said.
“Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals — even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway.”
“We defend our freedom to live, to love, to sound,” he said.
“On our land, we are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music, fill it today to tell our story.”
12:50 am: Satellite images show long trench at Ukrainian mass grave site, Maxar says
Satellite images show a 45-foot-longtrench dug into the grounds of a Ukrainian church where a mass grave was found this week after Russian forces withdrew from the town of Bucha, a private U.S. company said on Sunday.
Reuters journalists who visited Bucha on Saturday saw bodies lying on the streets of the town, 37 km (23 miles) northwest of the capital Kyiv. A mass grave at one church was still open, with hands and feet poking through the red clay heaped on top.
12:30 am: Russia must be held accountable for Ukraine civilian deaths, says Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the “egregious and appalling” killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, saying Russia must be held to account.
“We strongly condemn the murder of civilians in Ukraine, remain committed to holding the Russian regime accountable,” Trudeau tweeted.
“Those responsible for these egregious and appalling attacks will be brought to justice,” he added.
Ukraine and Western nations on Sunday accused Russian troops of war crimes after the discovery of a mass grave and “executed” civilians in Bucha, near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
10:34 pm: Kharkiv has experienced ‘continuous Russian shelling’
Reporting from Kharkiv, FRANCE 24’s Catherine Norris-Trent says Ukraine’s second-largest city has experienced continuous shelling over the past few days, and villages on the outskirts of the city have been completely destroyed. Kharkiv’s local prosecutor said seven people were killed and 34 wounded in Russian strikes on Sunday.
9:20 pm: Russia asks UN Security Council to discuss Bucha ‘provocation’
Russia has requested that the United Nations Security Council convene on Monday to discuss what it called a “provocation by Ukrainian radicals” in the town of Bucha after Kyiv accused Russian troops of killing civilians there.
“In light of the blatant provocation by Ukrainian radicals in Bucha, Russia has demanded that a meeting of the UN Security Council be convened,” Dmitry Polansky, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the UN, wrote on the Telegram messenger app.
8:55 pm: Russian shelling kills seven in Kharkiv, says prosecutor
Russian shelling killed seven people in the city of Kharkiv on Sunday evening and injured 34 more, including three children, the regional prosecutor’s office said.
Ten houses and a trolleybus depot were also damaged, it said in a statement.
8:46 pm: ‘Special mechanism’ created to investigate Russian crimes, says Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he had created a “special mechanism” to investigate Russian “crimes” in Ukraine, vowing to find and punish “everyone” responsible for civilian killings in towns near Kyiv.
“I decided to create a special mechanism of justice in Ukraine to investigate and prosecute every crime of the occupiers in our country,” he said in a video address. He said this will include “national and international experts, investigators, prosecutors and judges.”
Zelensky vowed that “everyone guilty of such crimes will be entered in a special Book of Executioners, will be found and punished.”
Earlier Sunday, in an interview with the US TV network, CBS, Zelensky described the events in his country as a “torture of the whole nation”.
7:26 pm: Ukraine says Russia shells Kharkiv, casualties reported
Russian forces shelled Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, which lies near the Russian border – on Sunday, killing and injuring a number of people, the region’s governor said.
“In the evening, the occupiers shelled the Slobidsky district of Kharkiv,” Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram.
“Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded among the civilian population. As of this time, there are 23 casualties, including children. The figures are being established.”
7:10 pm: UN chief ‘deeply shocked’ by Bucha images
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has joined the chorus of condemnations over the images from Bucha, saying he was “deeply shocked” and called for an independent investigation.
“I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine. It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability,” Guterres said.
I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine.
It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 3, 2022
6:50 pm: Destroyed ‘Dream’: AN-225 plane parts among debris at Hostomel
Reporting from Hostomel airport on the outskirts of Kyiv, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg recounts the role the Antonov AN-225 airplane — also called Mriya, or “dream” in Ukrainian — played during the Covid crisis.
The world’s largest plane was destroyed during the Russian invasion in late February.
5:49 pm: Ukrainian prosecutors says 410 bodies found in towns near Kyiv
Ukrainian prosecutors investigating possible war crimes by Russia have found 410 bodies in towns near Kyiv and 140 of them had been examined, Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova said on television on Sunday.
Russia’s defence ministry denied on Sunday that its forces had killed civilians in Bucha.
5:15 pm: Russian military denies killing civilians in Bucha
Russia’s defence ministry has denied responsibility for the killing of civilians in Bucha.
“During the time this settlement was under the control of Russian armed forces, not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions,” the ministry said in a statement.
Photo and video of corpses strewn across the streets of Bucha were “another production of the Kyiv regime for the Western media,” it added.
“For the entire time that the city was under the control of the Russian armed forces and, and afterwards, until today, in Bucha, local residents freely moved around the city and used cellular communications,” said the statement.
“We would like to emphasize especially that all Russian units completely withdrew from Bucha on March 30, the day after the face-to-face round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey.”
4:22 pm: ‘Devastation’ of buildings in Bucha, Hostomel, Irpin after Russian retreat
There is a “devastation of architecture” in the Kyiv-area towns of Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin in the wake of Russian’ forces invasion, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports.
“Huge parts of those towns are completely destroyed, other parts, you see buildings that look like they’re intact, but you tend to see that there’s some sort of damage to almost everywhere.”
4:10 pm: Macron blasts Russian ‘crimes’ in Bucha
French President Emmanuel Macron has joined the chorus of condemnations over the killing of civilians in Bucha, near Kyiv.
In a statement in French published on Twitter, Macron said: “The images from Bucha, a liberated town near Kyiv, are unbearable. In the streets, hundreds of civilians were murdered in a cowardly way. My sympathies for the victims, my solidarity with the Ukrainians. Russian authorities will have to answer for these crimes.”
Les images qui nous parviennent de Boutcha, ville libérée près de Kiev, sont insoutenables. Dans les rues, des centaines de civils lâchement assassinés. Ma compassion pour les victimes, ma solidarité avec les Ukrainiens. Les autorités russes devront répondre de ces crimes.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 3, 2022
3:53 pm: Shelling continues night and day in Donetsk, says governor
The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region said on Sunday that shelling had continued throughout the night and day, and described the situation in the region as “turbulent”.
Ukraine’s military has said it believes Russia has pulled forces from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions to move them to the eastern region of Donbas, for a new attack aiming to occupy all of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that are within Donbas.
Earlier Sunday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 11 local community leaders in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine had been kidnapped by Russian forces.
“Up to today, 11 heads of local communities in the regions of Kyiv, Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Donetsk are in captivity,” she said in a video message posted on her Telegram account.
“We are informing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN, all possible organisations, just like for the other civilians who have disappeared.”
Vereshchuk urged “everyone to do everything in their power to get them back”.
3:35 pm: Lithuanian director and documentary filmmaker killed in Ukraine
Lithuania’s president on Sunday confirmed that Mantas Kvedaravicius, a prominent film director in the Baltic country, has been killed in Ukraine.
“We have lost a creator who worked in Ukraine and was attacked by aggressor Russia,” President Gitanas Nauseda said Sunday.
According to the Ukrainian defence ministry’s information agency, the 45-year-old filmmaker was killed on Saturday in Mariupol, a city whose fate he had documented for many years. The circumstances of his death could not be immediately confirmed.
Kvedaravicius was known for his documentaries on military conflicts in Chechnya and Ukraine. His film “Mariupolis” premiered at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival.
News of Kvedaravicius’ death was met with grief and shock in Ukraine and his native Lithuania.
— Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – Ukrainian Parliament (@ua_parliament) April 3, 2022
3:28 pm: Official in Ukraine’s Bucha says more than 50 people buried in mass grave
Fifty-seven people were buried in a mass grave in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv recently retaken by Ukrainian forces, a local official said Sunday, showing AFP a slit trench where the bodies lay.
“Here in this long grave, 57 people are buried,” said Serhii Kaplychnyi, who identified himself as head of the rescue services in Bucha, organising the recovery of the bodies.
Roughly ten bodies were visible, either unburied or partially covered by the earth.
2:30 pm: France blasts ‘massive abuses’ by Russian forces
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has condemned what he called the “massive abuses” committed by Russian forces in Ukraine in a statement released Sunday.
Le Drian mentioned Bucha in particular and added that France will work with Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to put on trial those responsible for the abuses, the statement noted.
Russia has so far not commented publicly on the claims. Moscow has previously repeatedly denied Ukrainian claims that it has targeted civilians.
2:17 pm: Kremlin says rouble-for-gas scheme is the ‘prototype’
The Kremlin has warned the West that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rouble payment scheme for natural gas is the prototype that Russia will extend to other major exports because the West has sealed the decline of the US dollar by freezing Russian assets.
“It is the prototype of the system,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s Channel One state television on Sunday. “I have no doubt that it will be extended to new groups of goods,” he added. Peskov gave no timeframe for such a move.
Western capitals slapped Russia with unprecedented economic sanctions after Moscow moved troops into Ukraine on February 24.
The Kremlin on Sunday said it’s not possible to completely isolate Russia. “There can be no complete vacuum or isolation of Russia, it is technologically impossible in the modern world,” said Peskov.
1:48 pm: Pianist plays for refugees from Ukraine at border crossing in Poland
Every day at 4:00 pm, pianist Davide Martello wheels his instrument into place at the Medyka crossing on the Polish-Ukrainian border and plays songs for refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.
“It’s very important that I stay here every day,” Martello said to FRANCE 24. “I need to stay strong and help everybody here out.”
“I have already three Ukrainian songs I can play, which I learned here in Medyka.”
The German musician has played on Kyiv’s Maidan Square and Istanbul’s Taksim Square, as well as in front of the Bataclan concert hall after the November 2015 Paris attacks.
“Someone who could come up with this idea is someone who has a big heart, because music makes you emotional and I think that it’s a big support for all of these people who have had to leave their homes,” a woman at the border crossing said to FRANCE 24.
1:20 pm: Human Rights Watch accuses Russian forces of ‘apparent war crimes’
Human Rights Watch said on Sunday it had documented what it described as “apparent war crimes” committed by Russian military forces against civilians in Ukraine.
The leading rights group issued a statement saying it had found “several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations” in regions such as Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv.
12:57 pm: Attacks on civilians in Kyiv suburbs must be investigated as war crimes, UK says
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Russia’s attacks on civilians in towns near Kyiv must be investigated as war crimes on Sunday.
Truss said in a statement that the government is seeing “increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha”, close to Kyiv.
Truss said that Russian troops’ “indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians during Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes”.
12:37 pm: European Council chief Michel denounces ‘atrocities’ in Ukraine’s Bucha
European Council chief Charles Michel on Sunday pledged further sanctions on Moscow as he condemned “atrocities” carried out by Russian forces in the town of Bucha near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
“Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kyiv liberated region #BuchaMassacre,” Michel wrote on Twitter.
Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kyiv liberated region #BuchaMassacre
EU is assisting #Ukraine & NGO’s in gathering of necessary evidence for pursuit in international courts.
Further EU sanctions & support are on their way.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) April 3, 2022
12:07 pm: Kyiv calls killing of civilians in Bucha a ‘deliberate massacre’
The killing of civilians in the town of Bucha near Kyiv was a “deliberate massacre”, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Sunday, after the hasty retreat of Russian forces from the area.
“Bucha massacre was deliberate. Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can. We must stop them and kick them out. I demand new devastating G7 sanctions NOW,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
Bucha massacre was deliberate. Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can. We must stop them and kick them out. I demand new devastating G7 sanctions NOW:
-Oil, gas, coal embargo
-Close all ports to Russian vessels and goods
-Disconnect all Russian banks from SWIFT pic.twitter.com/oZkCAETCQp
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) April 3, 2022
11:03 am: Russia says oil refinery, fuel storage facilities destroyed in Odesa strike
The Russian defence ministry confirmed that missile strikes hit Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea port of Odesa on Sunday. “This morning, high-precision sea- and air-based missiles destroyed an oil refinery and three storage facilities for fuel and lubricants near the city of Odesa, from which fuel was supplied to a group of Ukrainian troops in the direction of Mykolaiv,” it said.
9:47 am: Russian withdrawal from Kyiv region reveals evidence of civilian killings
Ukraine said it had regained control of the Kyiv region, with Russian troops retreating from around the capital and the city of Chernihiv, as evidence emerged of civilian killings in areas the invading forces had been occupying.
8:39 am: Russia says peace talks not advanced enough for Putin-Zelensky meeting
Russia said on Sunday that peace talks had not progressed enough for a leaders’ meeting and that Moscow’s position on the status of the Crimea peninsula and the eastern Donbas region remained unchanged.
“The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top,” Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said on Telegram. “I repeat again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED.”
7:45 am: Loud explosions heard in Odesa
“Odesa was attacked from the air,” Ukraine interior minister advisor Anton Herashchenko wrote on his Telegram account. “Fires were reported in some areas. Some of the missiles were shot down by air defence.”
An AFP reporter heard explosions in the southwestern city at around 6:00 am local time (0300 GMT). The blasts sent up at least three columns of black smoke with flames apparently visible in an industrial area. A soldier near the site of one of the strikes said it was likely a rocket or a missile.
The attack comes as Russian forces appeared to be withdrawing from the country’s north. On Friday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia was consolidating its forces and preparing “powerful strikes” in the south, joining a chorus of Western assessments that Moscow’s troops were regrouping.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)