Russia-Ukraine war : Biden says Putin is a war criminal, calls for war crimes trial

Eight dead, 34 injured after rocket hits Mykolaiv • Details of Bucha massacre come to light, Russia denies war crimes

 Bodies of civilians, who according to residents were killed by Russian army soldiers, lie in the street, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Bucha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine April 2, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA)
Bodies of civilians, who according to residents were killed by Russian army soldiers, lie in the street, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Bucha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine April 2, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA)

U.S. President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal on Monday and said he would call for a war crimes trial, as a global outcry mounted over civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

"You saw what happened in Bucha," Biden told reporters at the White House. "This warrants him - he is a war criminal."

"We have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight. And we have to get all the detail so this can be an actual, have a war crimes trial," Biden said.

Troop withdrawal and amassment 

Rockets struck in Mykolaiv, its mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych, announced. The Mykolaiv prosecutor's office updated that eight died and 34 were injured as a result.  

Some Russian troops remained in the northern Ukrainian region of Chernihiv on Monday after pulling back from around the region's main city of Chernihiv, regional governor Viacheslav Chaus said.

Explosions were heard in the early hours of Monday in the cities of Kherson and Odesa, in the south, while air raid sirens sounded across the east.

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The Mayor of Ternopil, Serhiy Nadal, announced that an explosion was heard in his city. It is unclear if it was a missile attack. Ternopil is located nearly 120 kilometers east of Lviv. 

The mayor also reported a missile shot down over the city of Slavuta, situated between Lviv and Zhytomyr. Additional missiles were fired at Odesa, continuing the Russian assault on the city. 

Heavy fighting has continued in Mariupol as Russian forces attempt to take the southeastern port city, British military intelligence said, adding that Russian forces continue to consolidate and reorganize as they refocus their offensive into the Donbas region in the east of Ukraine.

Russian troops are withdrawing from Ukraine's Sumy region on the northeastern border with Russia, Sumy's regional administration announced overnight on Sunday. 

Russia has repositioned about two thirds of its forces from around Kyiv, with many consolidating in Belarus where they are expected to be refit, resupplied and redeployed elsewhere in Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday.

"We still assess that the vast, vast majority of the more than 125 battalion tactical groups that the Russians invested in this invasion are still in Ukraine," the official said.

Belarus continued to reinforce its border with Ukraine, the Armed Forces announced, in the Volyn region in the northwest. 

Massacres at Bucha, Irpin

Ukraine said 50 of some 300 bodies, found after Russian forces withdrew from Bucha northwest of the capital, Kyiv, were victims of extra-judicial killings by Russian troops. 

"When you get into Bucha, you see a turned over white car marked 'mines' — that's what the Russians left behind," said Hadas Greenberg, KAN's correspondent in Ukraine.  

Greenberg described dead civilian bodies in cars and destroyed buildings.

Satellite images showed a 45-foot (14-m) -long trench dug into the grounds of a church where a mass grave was found. According to local witnesses and the city's mayor, a mass grave was set up in the local church. It includes 64 bodies. 

 A satellite image shows the grave site with an approximately 45-foot (approximately 13,7 meters) long trench in the southwestern section of the area near the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, in Bucha, Ukraine, March 31, 2022.  (credit: MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) A satellite image shows the grave site with an approximately 45-foot (approximately 13,7 meters) long trench in the southwestern section of the area near the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, in Bucha, Ukraine, March 31, 2022. (credit: MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

"There is no way to describe the hell that is happening there," Greenberg told Kan Radio. 

The Ukrainian army fended off seven attacks throughout Sunday, the Armed Forces announced, destroying two units of armored equipment. 

The discovery of a mass grave and tied bodies shot at close range in Bucha looked set to galvanize the United States and Europe into additional sanctions against Moscow.

The mayor of Bucha, a liberated town 37 km (23 miles) northwest of the capital, said that 300 residents had been killed by Russian forces while Chechen fighters controlled the area.

Russia denies war crimes claims, calls for probe 

Russia's chief investigator on Monday ordered an official examination of what he called a Ukrainian "provocation" after Kyiv accused the Russian military of massacring civilians in the town of Bucha.

Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Russian Investigative Committee, ordered that a probe be opened on the basis that Ukraine had spread "deliberately false information" about Russian armed forces in Bucha, the committee said in a statement.

Russia's foreign ministry said that footage of dead civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha had been "ordered" by the United States as part of a plot to blame Russia.

"Who are the masters of provocation? Of course, the United States and NATO," ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an interview on state television late on Sunday.

Russia has continued to reject the claims of human rights violations and war crimes made against it for massacres in Bucha, which have come in all directions, from Ukraine to NATO. 

'No civilian casualties were reported in the Ukrainian town of Bucha when it was controlled by the Russian Armed Forces," said Anatoly Antonov, the Russian Ambassador to the US, according to Russian state media TASS. 

Ukraine said it found 410 bodies in towns near Kyiv in an investigation into possible war crimes and called for an International Criminal Court probe. France and Britain said they would support an investigation.

 Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses people with condemnation of the Russian troops war crimes in the settlements around Ukrainian capital, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 3, 2022. (credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS) Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses people with condemnation of the Russian troops war crimes in the settlements around Ukrainian capital, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 3, 2022. (credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Monday the discovery of dead civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha raised questions about possible war crimes.

"Reports emerging from this (Bucha) and other areas raise serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes, grave breaches of international humanitarian law and serious violations of international human rights law,"

The UN human rights office has some 50 staff in Ukraine who have been monitoring the civilian death toll since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. So far it has confirmed the deaths of 1,430 civilians, adding that the real toll is likely considerably higher because of verification difficulties.

Russian & Ukrainian casualties

According to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, some 18,000 Russians have died. The Russians lost 644 tanks, 143 planes, and 134 helicopters, according to the military report. 

At 9 a.m. on Monday, a moment of silence was observed across Ukraine in memory of those killed in the Russia-Ukraine war, Ukrainian media reported. 

Evacuations 

Three evacuation trains will leave from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions on Monday, Luhansk Regional Military Administration Serhiy Haidai announced. 

According to numbers released by Ukraine's Internal Affairs Ministry, around 58,000 people have crossed over into the EU and Moldova on Ukraine's western border, while approximately 22,000 crossed through the Polish border.  

Kyiv residents who evacuated to safer regions should wait several more days before returning to Ukraine's capital, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Monday.

"Firstly, there is currently a round-the-clock curfew in Kyiv region. Secondly, in certain ... towns near Kyiv, its likely that Russian occupiers left landmines, and there are (likely) a lot of unexploded munitions," Klitschko said.

Aid to Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is keen to send new types of military aid to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion, Johnson's spokesman said on Monday, although he did not name specific equipment.