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Ukraine's Zelenskyy urges U.N. to take action over atrocities discovered near Kyiv

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of war crimes in plea
Zelenskyy accuses Russia of war crimes in U.N. plea 03:45

Bucha, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke Tuesday to U.N. Security Council diplomats outraged by growing evidence that Russian forces deliberately killed civilians, many of them shot in yards, streets and homes, and their bodies left in the open.

"Now the world can see what they have done in Bucha," Zelenskyy told the Security Council in an address delivered via live video. "But the world has yet to see what Russia has done in other regions."

He accused Russia of "the most terrible war crimes" seen since the end of World War II.

"Russian troops are deliberately destroying Ukrainian cities to ashes with artillery and airstrikes. They are deliberately blocking cities, creating mass starvation. They deliberately shoot columns of civilians on the road trying to escape from hostilities. They even deliberately blow up shelters where civilians hide from airstrikes," Zelenskyy said.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy addresses U.N. Security Council on evidence of atrocities 14:50

"The Russian military and those who gave them orders must be brought to justice immediately for war crimes in Ukraine," he said, calling for reforms to make the international system more responsive.

The Russian withdrawal from towns around Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, revealed scores of corpses left behind, which led to calls for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin, especially a cutoff of gas and oil imports from Russia. Germany and France reacted by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, suggesting they were spies. U.S. President Joe Biden said Russian leader Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes.  

"This guy is brutal, and what's happening in Bucha is outrageous," Mr. Biden said, referring to the town northwest of the capital that was the scene of some of the horrors.

White House seeks new Russia sanctions amid Bucha killings 02:39

At the Pentagon, a senior defense official said the U.S. can't independently confirm the atrocities in Bucha but has no reason to refute them. The official called the images "deeply troubling."

The discovery of bodies in Bucha was expected to be "front and center" at the Security Council session, said Barbara Woodward, the U.N. ambassador for the United Kingdom, which holds the council presidency.

Before Zelenskyy addressed the Security Council, members received briefings from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres; his political chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, and U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, who is trying to arrange a cease-fire. Griffiths met with Russian officials in Moscow on Monday and is due to visit Ukraine.

Ukainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, speaking to reporters in Bucha, northwest of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, on April 4, 2022. RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty

CBS News correspondent Debora Patta and her team went to Bucha on Monday and saw for themselves the unburied dead sprawled across the town. The slain were not wearing military uniforms. Many were undoubtedly civilians, some executed with their hands bound behind their backs. Some residents were even cut down by tanks as they rode on bicycles.

Next to a church, Patta and her team saw a hastily dug mass grave — one of several in Bucha. The government said nearly 300 bodies had been discovered in the small town. The Ukrainian military released video of what it called a basement torture chamber, showing a line of people with their hands tied and gunshot wounds to the head.  

More evidence of Russian war crimes, said Ukraine.

A man gestures at a mass grave in the town of Bucha, northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, April 3, 2022. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty

"The time will come when every Russian will learn the whole truth about who among their fellow citizens killed, who gave orders, who turned a blind eye to the murders," Zelenskyy said as he visited the town on Monday. He appealed for more weaponry as Russia prepares new offensives.

"If we had already got what we needed — all these planes, tanks, artillery, anti-missile and anti-ship weapons — we could have saved thousands of people," he said.

On the CBS News broadcast "Face the Nation" Sunday, Zelenskyy called the Russian actions "genocide" and called for the West to apply tougher sanctions against Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the scenes outside Kyiv as a "stage-managed anti-Russian provocation." Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the images contained "signs of video forgery and various fakes."

Russia has rejected previous allegations of atrocities as fabrications by Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv that were recaptured from Russian forces.

The Ukrainian prosecutor-general's office described one room discovered in Bucha as a "torture chamber." In a statement, it said the bodies of five men with their hands bound were found in the basement of a children's sanatorium where civilians were tortured and killed.

The bodies seen by AP journalists in Bucha included at least 13 in and around a building that local people said Russian troops used as a base. Three other bodies were found in a stairwell, and six were burned together.

The dead witnessed by the news agency's journalists also included bodies wrapped in black plastic, piled on one end of the mass grave in a Bucha churchyard. Many of those victims had been shot in cars or killed in explosions trying to flee the city. With the morgue full and the cemetery impossible to reach, the churchyard was the only place to keep the dead, Father Andrii Galavin said.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, insisted Monday at a news conference that during the time that Bucha was under Russian control, "not a single local person has suffered from any violent action."

However, high-resolution satellite imagery by commercial provider Maxar Technologies showed that many of the bodies had been lying in the open for weeks, during the time when Russian forces were in Bucha. The New York Times first reported on the satellite images showing the dead.

Western and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of war crimes before. The International Criminal Court's prosecutor has already opened an investigation. But the latest reports ratcheted up the condemnation.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the images from Bucha reveal the "unbelievable brutality of the Russian leadership and those who follow its propaganda."

French President Emmanuel Macron said there is "clear evidence of war crimes" in Bucha that demand new punitive measures.

"I'm in favor of a new round of sanctions and in particular on coal and gasoline. We need to act," he said on France-Inter radio.

Though united in outrage, the European allies appeared split on how to respond. While Poland urged Europe to quickly wean itself off Russian energy, Germany said it would stick with a gradual approach of phasing out coal and oil imports over the next several months.

Russia withdrew many of its forces from the area around Kyiv after being thwarted in its bid to swiftly capture the capital.

It has instead poured troops into eastern Ukraine in a stepped-up bid to gain control of the Donbas, the largely Russian-speaking industrial region that includes the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting and worst suffering of the war.

About two-thirds of the Russian troops around Kyiv have left and are either in Belarus or on their way there, probably getting more supplies and reinforcements, said a senior U.S. defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment.

More than 1,500 civilians were able to escape Mariupol on Monday, using the dwindling number of private vehicles available to leave, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

But amid the fighting, a Red Cross-accompanied convoy of buses that has been thwarted for days in its bid to deliver supplies and evacuate residents was again unable to get inside the city, Vereshchuk said.

Elsewhere, Russian shelling killed 11 people in the southern city of Mykolaiv, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said in a video message on social media.

CBS News' Pamela Falk contributed to this report.

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