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Zelenskyy accuses Russia of war crimes, says hundreds killed in Kyiv suburb

Ukraine says 15 evacuation buses left Zaporizhia for Mariupol

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a Telegram message Monday that 15 buses have left Zaporizhia for Mariupol.

Mariupol has seen numerous delays in humanitarian aid and transportation for those evacuating the city over the past several weeks. Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of blocking supplies and harming those trying to leave, which NBC News has not independently verified.

Vereshchuk said 3,376 citizens have been evacuated via humanitarian corridors as officials continue to evacuate people from several other cities in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.

France to expel Russian diplomats

The French Foreign Ministry announced Monday that multiple Russian diplomats would be expelled from the country.

The move was described as part of a wider European approach, and the ministry said the diplomats’ presence is “contrary to our security interests.”

Earlier in the day, Germany declared that several members of the Russian Embassy were unwelcome in the country.

Germany says some members of Russian Embassy no longer welcome

The German government on Monday declared several members of the Russian Embassy as unwelcome in its country.

“Their work is a threat to those who seek shelter with us. We will no longer tolerate this,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement.

Government officials said they reported the declaration to the Russian ambassador Monday afternoon.

“We will further tighten the existing sanctions against Russia, we will resolutely increase our support for the Ukrainian armed forces, and we will also strengthen NATO’s eastern flank,” Baerbock said.

140 U.N. members vote to condemn Russia

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said 140 U.N. members have already voted to condemn Russia over the war on Ukraine.

April 4, 202201:22

Number of Russian airstrikes on Ukraine declining, senior U.S. official says

The number of Russian airstrikes on Ukraine has declined in recent days, and the Russians have “reprioritized” their air activity, a senior defense official said. 

The Russian forces have refocused on Ukrainian positions in the south and around Izyum, near Kharkiv in the eastern portion of Ukraine, the official said, and the level of airstrikes on Kyiv has fallen in recent days. 

Russian troops around Izyum have been moving south and southeast toward the Donbas region, where they are repositioning and reinforcing their artillery. 

Two-thirds of Russian troops around Kyiv have left, senior U.S. official says

About two-thirds of the Russian troops that were positioned around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv have now left and are headed to Belarus, according to a senior defense official.

The troops are heading north and consolidating in Belarus, the official said. The U.S. believes they are being refitted, resupplied and perhaps reinforced with additional manpower, and then will be sent back into Ukraine to continue fighting elsewhere. The U.S. thinks they may go to the Donbas region.

“That doesn’t mean Kyiv is not under threat,” said the official. “And it doesn’t mean the Russians can’t change course or that there isn’t still a ground threat against Kyiv. Nobody is spiking any footballs here.” 

U.K. calls for Russia to be suspended from U.N. Human Rights Council

The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, on Monday called for Russia to be suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Her demand came after reports of attacks on civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha outside Kyiv.

“Given strong evidence of war crimes, including reports of mass graves and heinous butchery in Bucha, Russia cannot remain a member of the UN Human Rights Council,” Truss tweeted. 

Biden says Putin committed ‘war crime’ in Bucha

April 4, 202200:52

President Joe Biden on Monday said he is seeking additional sanctions against Russia and again called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal following reports of a mass killing of civilians by Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

“You may remember I was criticized for calling Putin a war criminal,” Biden said in brief remarks to reporters. “Well, the truth of the matter, you saw what happened in Bucha. This warrants him — he is a war criminal.”

“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it,” he added.

Read more on NBCNews.com.

Biden administration is considering new sanctions on Russia, official says

The Biden administration is considering adding more sanctions on Russia and tightening existing ones in response to actions by Russian troops in Bucha, according to a senior administration official.

Speaking to reporters Monday morning, President Joe Biden confirmed that he will announce more sanctions, but did not give a timeline.

The possible shift comes after reports of civilian massacres and mass graves in Bucha circulated, prompting international condemnation and claims that the attacks were war crimes.

While it is unclear which retaliatory measures the administration is considering, The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration has previously discussed “secondary sanctions” on countries that continue to trade with Russia, as well as other measures targeting their economy not seen in previous rounds of sanctions.

More than 20 schools attacked in Ukraine per day, U.K. aid group says

About 22 schools have been attacked in Ukraine per day since the war began five weeks ago, according to a news release Monday from the U.K. humanitarian organization Save the Children.

The group said that ongoing military operations have disrupted the education of around 5.5 million children who remain in the country. More than 2 million children have fled, it noted.

About 869 education facilities have been damaged — about 6 percent of schools in the country — and 83 destroyed, the Ukrainian ministry of education and science has said. Of those attacks, 43 percent have taken place in eastern Ukraine, where the organization said more than 400,000 children lived prior to Feb. 24.

Peter Walsh, Save the Children’s country director in Ukraine, called for those involved in the conflict to “protect the civilian nature of schools, students, and education staff,” as well as avoid using educational facilities for military purposes. “Schools should be safe places of learning for children and must be free from attacks at all times,” he said.

The organization noted that the war has “exacerbated an already challenging educational context” in Ukraine. Prior to the conflict, the group said 30 percent of education facilities in eastern Ukraine reported not having enough teachers, a problem that is worsening as many flee the country.

April 4, 202200:38

Zelenskyy says peace talks ‘difficult’ after Bucha devastation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy says peace talks with Russia will be more difficult after Russia’s military carried out what he called war crimes in Bucha in recent days.

Speaking from the Kyiv suburb Monday, Zelenskyy said he wanted the world to see “what the Russian military was doing” amid claims from Ukrainian officials that hundreds of civilians were killed by Russian forces there.

“This is a war crime and it will be recognized by the world as genocide,” he said of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.

Noting peace talks that recently took place in Istanbul, he said: “it is very difficult to negotiate when you see what they have done here.”

Still, he said that the longer peace talks are delayed “the worse it is for (Russia), and in principle for this situation, this war, because every day our troops come in and de-occupy the territories.”

April 4, 202201:30

Putin imposes visa restrictions on citizens from ‘unfriendly’ countries

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday introducing visa restrictions for citizens of countries that Moscow deems “unfriendly” in response to sanctions over Ukraine.

The decree, which comes into force Monday, suspends Russia’s simplified visa issuance regime with some European Union countries, as well as Norway, Switzerland, Denmark and Iceland.

It also ordered the Russian foreign ministry and other bodies to decide on introducing personal entry restrictions on “foreign citizens and stateless people who commit unfriendly actions against Russia, its citizens or its legal entities.”

It comes after the Russian government last month approved a list of unfriendly countries including the United States, Canada, Britain, E.U. states and Ukraine, among others.

U.S. wants Russia out of United Nations Human Rights Council

The United States is pushing for Russia’s removal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, its ambassador to the U.N. said Monday.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Monday that the U.S. would seek Russia’s suspension in light of what it called mounting evidence of war crimes “following horrific reports about violence against civilians in Bucha.” 

Thomas-Greenfield made the comments during a meeting with the Romanian prime minister, Nicolae Ciucă. She used the meeting to praise Romania for taking in more than 600,000 refugees from Ukraine, according to a statement from Olivia Dalton, the U.S. spokesperson at the U.N.

World leaders join in condemning Russian aggression

Countries across the world have joined the chorus of outrage over Russia’s military operation Kyiv in recent days, after Ukraine accused it of killing hundreds of civilians.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Monday that he saw signs of a possible “genocide” in Ukraine. “Putin is not conservative, just as the extreme-right isn’t conservative.

He wants to impose an authoritarian society through violence.” Sanchez said at an economic forum in Madrid.

France, Poland, Canada, Japan, Israel, Italy, Britain and the European Union have all condemned the civilian deaths in Bucha. Germany has called for severe sanctions against Russia.

European Union considering further Russian sanctions

The European Union is considering imposing additional sanctions against Russia in response to what Ukraine called a “massacre” in towns near the capital, Kviy.

The European Commission, the E.U.’s executive body, condemned of Russia’s alleged massacre of civilians in Ukraine. “We support the investigation by the International Criminal Court prosecutor and will advance as a matter of urgency the work on further sanctions against the Kremlin’s war machinery,” it said in a tweet Monday.

Ukraine’s defense ministry said Sunday that 410 dead bodies were found in “the liberated districts of Kyiv region,” including Bucha and Irpin.

Macron says ‘strong evidence of war crimes’ in Bucha

April 4, 202201:02

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday there were “clear indications” that Russia was responsible for killing civilians in Bucha, adding that this amounted to “strong evidence of war crimes.”

In an interview with France Inter radio, Macron also called for another round of punishing sanctions against the Kremlin.

Macron said Sunday on Twitter that the images coming out of Bucha were “unbearable.” Russian forces have retreated from the war-torn city, leaving in their wake a mass of what appeared to be civilian fatalities.

Macron faces re-election this month.

U.N. human rights chief ‘horrified’ by Bucha images

Image: Bucha
Communal workers prepare to carry a corpse in a body bag, in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 3, 2022.Sergei Supinsky / AFP – Getty Images

The United Nations human rights chief has said she is “horrified” by images purported to show the bodies of civilians Ukrainian officials say were slain by Russian forces in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv.

“Reports emerging from this and other areas raise serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes as well as grave breaches of international humanitarian law and serious violations of international human rights law,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement Monday.

The U.N. human rights chief said it was essential that all bodies be exhumed and identified so victims’ families can be informed and so the exact cause of death can be established.

She further said it is “vital that all efforts are made to ensure there are independent and effective investigations into what happened in Bucha to ensure truth, justice and accountability, as well as reparations and remedy for victims and their families.”

Russia has denied Ukraine’s claims that hundreds of civilians were killed in Bucha by its forces.

Russia’s chief investigator orders inquiry into Ukraine’s Bucha claims

Russia’s chief investigator ordered an official probe into Ukraine’s accusations of Russian forces killing hundreds of civilians in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv. 

In a statement Monday, Russia’s Investigative Committee said it was looking into Ukraine’s claims, as well as images shared by Ukrainian officials that it said aimed to “discredit the Russian military personnel.” 

Russia has rejected the claim that its forces killed civilians in Bucha, despite photos and video appearing to show bodies on city streets as its troops pulled out of Bucha and other cities near Kyiv. It has branded Ukraine’s claims a “provocation.” NBC News has not been able to independently verify the photos. 

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said in a tweet Sunday that Russia would also be requesting a meeting of the U.N. Security Council over what he called a “heinous provocation.” 

British foreign secretary to visit Poland, call for tougher sanctions on Russia

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will visit Poland on Monday to call for tougher sanctions on Russia, her office said, as major Western countries work together to ramp up the pressure on President Vladimir Putin and end the conflict in Ukraine.

“Putin is yet to show he is serious about diplomacy. A tough approach from the U.K. and our allies is vital to strengthen Ukraine’s hand in negotiations,” she said.

“Britain has helped lead the way with sanctions to cripple the Putin war machine. We will do more to ramp up the pressure on Russia and we will keep pushing others to do more.”

Truss is due to meet Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Poland’s capital, Warsaw, later Monday and her Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau on Tuesday.

Britain, a former European Union member, has coordinated with international allies to impose sanctions on key Russian industries and Moscow’s wealthy elites with the aim of crippling its economy in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Zelenskyy says new sanctions not ‘enough’ after accusing Russia of atrocities in Bucha

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the international community to take stronger action to pressure Russia to end its invasion after grisly images purported to show slain civilians emerged out of the town of Bucha, near Kyiv.

In a Sunday address, Zelenskyy said fresh sanctions from the West would not be “enough” to respond to the atrocities Ukrainians say have been committed in Bucha.

“There will definitely be a new sanctions package against Russia,” he said. “But I’m sure that’s not enough. We need more conclusions. Not only about Russia, but also about the political behavior that actually allowed this evil to come to our land.”

Russia has denied Ukraine’s accusations that its forces left hundreds dead in Bucha. It has rejected all claims of targeting civilians in Ukraine since it launched its invasion in late February.

April 3, 202201:30
Newlyweds Nastya Gracheva and Anton Sokolov kiss in a ruined shopping complex in central Kharkiv on April 3, 2022.Sergey Bobok / AFP – Getty Images

Russia denies Bucha massacre, claims photos are ‘staged’

The Kremlin has doubled down on its rejection of accusations from Ukraine that Russian forces killed hundreds of civilians in the city of Bucha, near Kyiv.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia “categorically” rejects “any accusations” and said Ukraine’s claims “must be seriously questioned,” Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called photos purported to show the dead bodies of civilians on Bucha’s streets “staged.”

Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians since it launched its invasion of Ukraine. It was unclear how the development could impact peace talks between the two countries.

April 4, 202202:03

Hungary’s hard-line leader declares victory in election as war rages in neighboring Ukraine

Viktor Orbán claimed victory in Hungary’s general election Sunday, as his Fidesz party appears on track to deliver the prime minister a fourth consecutive term amid a raging war in neighboring Ukraine.

A victory would allow Orbán to continue to be a thorn in the European Union and NATO alliances during a time of international crisis, as he attempts to balance Hungary’s Western partnerships with his close personal and economic relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Read the full story here.

Humanitarian corridor expected to open in Mariupol

A humanitarian corridor from the besieged port city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia is expected to be open Monday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said. 

In a video address shared on Telegram on Monday, Vereshchuk said the corridor would be designated for private vehicles. She said 15 buses destined for Mariupol had already left Zaporizhzhia as well. 

Meanwhile evacuation efforts continue in the Luhansk region, she said, including from the cities of Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Nyzhne and Rubizhne.

Ukraine accuses Russia of massacre; city strewn with bodies

BUCHA, Ukraine — Bodies with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture lay scattered in a city on the outskirts of Kyiv after Russian soldiers withdrew from the area. Ukrainian authorities on Sunday accused the departing forces of committing war crimes and leaving behind a “scene from a horror movie.”

As images of the bodies — of people whom residents said were killed indiscriminately — began to emerge from Bucha, a slew of European leaders condemned the atrocities and called for tougher sanctions against Moscow.

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces.

Read the full story here.