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April 3, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

Ret. general warns Putin stalling to distract West from his real objective
01:28

What we covered

  • The horrors of Russia’s occupation are becoming clear as Ukrainian forces retake the greater Kyiv area.
  • In Bucha, northwest of the capital, images show civilian bodies found strewn across a street following the withdrawal of Russian forces, and CNN reporters observed a mass grave in the town, with residents saying they believe at least 150 people are buried there.
  • The alleged atrocities have drawn international outrage, with Western leaders calling for war crimes investigations and increasing sanctions on Russia.
  • The southern coastal city of Odesa came under attack Sunday, with a local official saying a Russian missile strike had hit “critical infrastructure.” A fuel depot in the city is burning, according to a CNN team on the scene.
  • In light of fierce Ukrainian resistance, US intelligence suggests Russia has revised its invasion strategy to focus on taking control of the Donbas and other regions in eastern Ukraine, with a target date of early May.
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Zelensky appears in taped message at the Grammy Awards

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on screen during the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, Sunday night.

In a taped message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged for viewers and those in attendance at the Grammy Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion by any means possible, and to “tell our story, tell the truth about war” on social media and television.

Zelensky’s message preceded a musical performance dedicated to the people of Ukraine by John Legend and several Ukrainian artists.

“The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children drew swooping rockets, not shooting stars,” Zelensky said. “Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died. And we will never see them drawing.”

Zelensky has been outspoken in gathering international support for his country since the invasion began in February.

He tied that to the music industry’s biggest night by saying, “The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence.”

Read the rest of Zelensky’s message at the Grammys here.

UK Defense Ministry: Heavy fighting and airstrikes ongoing in Mariupol

Local residents walk past a building destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol Ukraine on April 3.

The besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been the center of intense Russian bombardment during the invasion, is still a hotbed for fighting and airstrikes, the UK’s Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence report.

The report highlights ongoing heavy fighting in Mariupol “as Russian forces attempt to take the city,” along with intense indiscriminate air strikes.

Why Mariupol matters: “Mariupol is almost certainly a key objective of the Russian invasion as it will secure a land corridor from Russia to the occupied territory of Crimea,” said the report.

Mariupol, which is ringed by Russian checkpoints, has suffered weeks of bombardment. Ukrainian officials have described the situation there for the remaining residents as a major humanitarian emergency, with no access to electricity, heat or water. Evacuation attempts are also ongoing.

Here's what we know about Bucha, the Kyiv suburb ravaged by Russian occupation

A woman walks amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, April 3.

Shocking images of carnage in the town of Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, show civilian bodies littering the street after five weeks of near-constant firefights. 

The photos were captured by Agence France-Presse on Saturday, the same day Ukraine declared the town liberated from Russian troops.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Horrifying images: The images show the mounting civilian toll of Russia’s brutal assault: at least 20 civilian men found strewn across a street including a man with his hands tied behind his back with a piece of cloth, another tangled up in a bicycle by a grassy bank.
  • Civilian executions: “Corpses of executed people still line the Yabluska street in Bucha. Their hands are tied behind their backs with white ‘civilian’ rags, they were shot in the back of their heads. So you can imagine what kind of lawlessness they perpetrated here,” Bucha mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk told Reuters on Saturday.
  • Mass grave: A mass grave has been discovered in Bucha, where bodies were first buried in the first days of the war, residents say. A CNN team saw at least a dozen bodies in body bags piled inside the grave. Some were already partially covered. Residents told CNN that around 150 people are buried there. The mayor of Bucha said that there could be up to 300 victims buried on site.
  • Zelensky’s comments: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for an end of Russian “war crimes” in a video address Sunday, and for Russian leaders to be held accountable for the military’s actions. “This is genocide,” he said. “I want all the leaders of the Russian Federation to see how their orders are being fulfilled.”
  • Russia’s response: The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed the extensive footage was “fake,” saying “not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions,” during Russia’s occupation of Bucha. The Russian government has consistently responded to allegations of civilian casualties inflicted by Russian forces with blanket denials.
  • International outrage: Western leaders, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have called for war crimes investigations and increasing sanctions on Russia. EU Council President Charles Michel vowed further sanctions on Russia, while United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said an independent investigation into the civilians killed in Bucha was “essential.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the images show a “brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe for decades.”

At a mass grave in a Kyiv suburb, the sense of loss is impossible to measure

Vladimir stands on the edge of a mass grave in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv. He holds his hands to his head, then up to the sky.

“Brother, we’ve been looking for you for so long,” he says, bursting into tears halfway through. His brother, Dmitry, has been missing for roughly a week and neighbors told Vladimir he might be buried here.

Inside the grave, the bodies are piled on top of one another, mostly inside black bags but some with limbs protruding. Only some are interred. A CNN team saw at least a dozen bodies on the mass grave, but the earth shows signs of recent movement, suggesting many more could lie beneath.

Kyiv Regional Police and local residents say they believe at least 150 people were buried in the mass grave, but the mayor of Bucha says the death toll could be as high as 300. CNN could not independently verify their claims.

Vladimir gathers himself, comforted by his wife, Anna, and a neighbour, Liubov, and leaves. He says he believes his brother is buried there, but the sad reality is he cannot know for sure — and might not for a very long time.

Residents say the grave, on the grounds behind the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, started being dug early in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, such was the death toll in this leafy suburb of Kyiv.

Read the full story:

Vladimir is comforted by his wife Anna near a mass grave in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

At a mass grave in a Kyiv suburb, the sense of loss is impossible to measure

Lithuanian documentary filmmaker killed in Mariupol

A local resident crosses a street damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on April 3.

Lithuanian documentary filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius was killed in Mariupol, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s information agency reported Sunday on Twitter.

Mariupol has been the center of intense bombardment from Russian strikes in recent weeks.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda expressed his condolences in a statement.

“We have lost not only in Lithuania, but also in the world, a well-known creator, who until the last moment, despite the danger, worked in Ukraine, which was attacked by the aggressor Russia. I wish strength and strength to M. Kvedaravičius’ relatives, friends and all fans of his talent, ” Nausėda said.

Lana Estemirova, the daughter of Natalia Estemirova, a human rights investigator from Chechnya who was murdered in 2009, mourned the death of Kvedaravičius on Twitter.

“Mantas was a family friend, a frequent guest in our Grozny flat. A brave and kind soul. I can’t believe this,” Estemirova said.

“RIP dearest Mantas – a true artist, cinema poet, mysterious and brave soul. A terrible loss for Lithuanian cinema community and all the world. Our hearts are broken,” Lithuanian documentary director Giedre Zickyte said on Facebook.

In 2016, Kvedaravičius‘ documentary “Mariupolis” premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.

His 2011 documentary “Barzakh” focused on Russia’s war in Chechnya and earned him the Amnesty International Film Prize.

Ukrainian president calls for an end to Russian "war crimes" after mass graves found in Bucha

In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for an end to Russian “war crimes.”

His address came after reports of dozens of bodies found in the streets and mass graves in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

Zelensky called on Russian leaders to be held accountable for the actions of the nation’s military.

“I want all the leaders of the Russian Federation to see how their orders are being fulfilled. Such orders. Such a fulfillment. And joint responsibility. For these murders, for these tortures, for these arms torn off by explosions that lie on the streets. For shots in the back of the head of tied people. This is how the Russian state will now be perceived. This is your image,” Zelensky said.

In his address, Zelensky announced a “mechanism of justice” would be established to investigate crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Ukrainian territory. The mechanism would be supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Prosecutor General, the National Police, the Security Service, the Intelligence Service and other government branches, he said.

“This mechanism will help Ukraine and the world bring to concrete justice those who unleashed or in any way participated in this terrible war against the Ukrainian people and in crimes against our people,” he said.

Zelensky said he will provide more information on the state of Ukrainian territory that was occupied by Russian forces.

“All partners of Ukraine will be informed in detail about what happened in the temporarily occupied territory of our state. War crimes in Bucha and other cities during the Russian occupation will also be considered by the UN Security Council on Tuesday,” he said.

He also noted efforts are underway to restore electricity and water to Bucha, as well as reestablishing medical institutions and infrastructure.

 Zelensky once again invoked the need for stronger sanctions against Russia.

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

Ukrainians mourn the death of a soldier who died fighting the Russian army

Family and friends mourn at the casket of Ukrainian soldier Dmitry Zhelisko, who died fighting the Russian army near the town of Kharkiv.

Here are photos from his funeral at the Church of St. Luke in Rusyn, Ukraine:

Sergey Zhelisko, center, family and friends mourn at the casket of his son, Ukrainian soldier Dmitry Zhelisko, during his funeral at the Church of St. Luke on April 03 in Rusyn, Ukraine. Zhelisko died fighting the Russian army near the town of Kharkiv.
A band leads a funeral procession for Ukrainian soldier Dmitry Zhelisko to the cemetery on April 03.
Ukrainian military members carry the casket of fellow soldier Dmitry Zhelisko to his grave site on Sunday in Rusyn.
Sergey Zhelisko is hugged as his son, Ukrainian soldier Dmitry Zhelisko, is buried in Rusyn.
Sergey Zhelisko, center, along with family and friends, watch as his son, Ukrainian soldier Dmitry Zhelisko is buried on Sunday.

In victory speech, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban calls Ukraine's Zelensky an opponent

Hungary's Viktor Orban addresses cheering supporters during an election night rally in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in his victory speech on Sunday his re-election sends a message not only to the EU, but also to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“We will remember this victory until the end of our lives because we had to fight against a huge amount of opponents: the local left wing, the international left wing all around, bureaucrats of Brussels, all the money and institutions of the Soros empire, the international mainstream media and the Ukrainian president too. We never had so many opponents at the same time,” he told supporters in Budapest.

Oban is known as an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The election campaign was dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which put Orban’s lengthy association with Putin under scrutiny.

While Hungary ultimately supported most EU sanctions unveiled so far, Orban has been adamant that measures are not extended to imports of Russian oil and gas. Most of Hungary’s oil and natural gas imports come from Russia.

Correction: This post misstated Viktor Orban’s title. He is the Prime Minister of Hungary.

More than 2,600 evacuated through humanitarian corridors in Ukraine on Sunday, Ukrainian deputy PM says

A total of 2,694 people were evacuated through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced in a post on Telegram.                                           

Vereshchuk said 469 Mariupol residents have traveled by their own vehicles via humanitarian corridors from Mariupol and Berdiansk to Zaporizhzhia.

In the Luhansk region, 1,467 people were evacuated from the cities of Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, Rubizhne and Kreminna.

Seven buses accompanied by a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross reached Manhush on Sunday. Vereshchuk said negotiations are underway to continue the convoy’s movement to Mariupol on Monday.

A convoy of buses carrying more than 350 people from Mariupol and Berdiansk passed through checkpoints, she said.

Ten more buses carrying 408 Mariupol residents from Berdiansk are currently passing through Vasylivka, Vereshchuk said.

Ukrainian lawmaker pleads for additional aid while visiting US Congress

Ukrainian Parliament Member Anastasia Radina is on a mission to advocate for more aid from US lawmakers as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues.

Radina visited members of Congress in Washington, DC, describing and showing them the dire situation on the ground.

“We are receiving a lot of support and we also are glad to hear that, there is an understanding that action is needed and not just words, but we are calling for this action to happen immediately,” she told CNN’s Dana Bash during her visit this week alongside other Ukrainian parliament members.

“Right now it is Ukraine who is fighting for every inch of NATO territory. We are now shielding NATO from war crazy dictator who has no respect for any rule of law, any international rule of law. We are now dying for NATO values, for US values and we’re asking for support for these values in action,” Radina said.

Asked if she was frustrated Radina responded, “A bit. But we are also very much determined to fight until the end because that’s basically our only choice.”

For Radina, the trip to the US was a difficult decision. She left behind her two-year-old son and elderly father. Radina told CNN she uses an an app on her phone to monitor air raid warnings as she visits DC. She said that the app has alerted to a few air raid alarms. “It’s probably one of the most terrifying experiences in my life.”

Radina said that “As a mother, I feel guilty, but I also have a duty to speak on behalf of all Ukrainian mothers…as privileged as I am to spread the message across the world about what is happening in Ukraine and what kind of support Ukraine needs to stop that.”

During her visit in Congress, Radina carried a binder filled with pictures of the dire situation in Ukraine, including a particularly devastating image of a mother in Mariupol mourning her 19-month-old child, who died after a shelling.

Radina became emotional while describing the situation. “He was shelled in Mariupol, if I’m not mistaken. They managed to get him to a hospital but there’s nothing the doctors could do,” she explained.

“I cannot look at this picture without tears because what I think of when I look at this picture is my son who is staying in Ukraine right now,” Radina said.

Watch the full interview here:

It's Sunday evening in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Damaged vehicles are seen in the Hostomel region on April 03.

Shocking images came to light from Bucha, Ukraine, on Saturday of at least 20 civilian men dead and lining a single street. The images were captured by Agence France-Presse on the same day Ukraine declared the town liberated from Russian troops.

Accounts of alleged Russian atrocities are emerging as its forces retreat from areas near Kyiv following a failed bid to encircle the capital.

European leaders have condemned the alleged atrocities in Bucha, and called for an investigation into the Russian military and new sanctions. The Russian Ministry of Defense denied the allegations on Sunday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday called the deaths of civilians in Bucha a “brutality” after allegations they were executed by Russian forces in the area.

Here are more of the latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine conflict:

  • CNN reporters observed a mass grave in Bucha: A mass grave has been discovered in the town of Bucha, in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, a CNN team found. Bodies were first buried in the grave, on the grounds of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, in the first days of the war, residents told CNN. CNN saw at least a dozen bodies in body bags pilled inside the grave. Some were already partially covered. According to residents, more bodies are already buried on site. They said they belong mostly to civilians killed in the fighting around Bucha. Residents told CNN that around 150 people are buried there. 
  • Ukrainian president reacts to images from Bucha: “This is genocide,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday, speaking after the images emerged of civilian bodies strewn across the streets of Bucha. “The elimination of the whole nation, and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities,” he said  during an appearance on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
  • Russia’s response to images from Bucha: The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed the extensive footage was “fake,” saying “not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions,” during Russia’s occupation of Bucha. “In the settlements of the Kiev region, Russian military personnel delivered and issued 452 tons of humanitarian aid to civilians,” it said in a statement. A separate statement claimed the footage was staged. The Russian government has consistently responded to allegations of civilian casualties inflicted by Russian forces with blanket denials.
  • UN secretary general calls for an “independent investigation” into civilians killed in Bucha: The top UN official said an “independent investigation” into the civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine, is “essential” to ensure “effective accountability.” “I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement Sunday.
  • US secretary of state says images of dead Ukrainians in Bucha “a punch to the gut”: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the State Department would help document any atrocities the Russian military committed against Ukrainian civilians, following new images from AFP out of the town of Bucha. “You can’t help but see these images as a punch to the gut,” Blinken told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday.
  • State Department spokesperson suggests US will take additional actions against Russia “very soon”: State Department spokesperson Ned Price, meanwhile, hinted at additional US action against Russia coming “very soon” when asked about Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s request for greater G7 sanctions in response to the latest atrocities in Bucha. “When it comes to our sanctions, we’ve always said that we will continue applying pressure on President Putin, on the Kremlin, on all of those around him including oligarchs and cronies who are empowering this war of choice against Ukraine, until and unless the Kremlin deescalates, until and unless the violence diminishes, and until and unless these kinds of atrocities come to an end. So I suspect you will very soon see additional pressure applied,” Price told MSNBC Sunday.
  • NATO chief warns attacks in Ukraine will continue: This is not a “real withdrawal of Russian forces,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, warning that attacks in Ukraine will continue. “What we see is not a real withdrawal. But we see that Russia is repositioning its troops and they are taking some of them back to rearm them, to reinforce them, to resupply them. We should not in a way be too optimistic because the attacks will continue,” Stoltenberg told CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash on Sunday. 
  • Ukrainian city of Chernihiv mostly destroyed, mayor says: The northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv is about 70% destroyed following an assault by Russian troops, Vladyslav Atroshenko, the city’s mayor, said Sunday. The “consequences” of the attack by Russia in Chernihiv are “severe,” similar to the aftermath in other badly damaged cities and towns like Bucha, where bodies of civilians were found in the streets, as well as in Kharkiv and Mariupol, he said. The most urgent issues facing residents is a “concentration of Russian troops on the Belarusian border,” and concerns the city will be hit with more missiles and air bombs, Atroshenko added.

Ukrainian official: Shelling and warnings of missile strikes in Kharkiv region

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire in a house damaged by Russian shelling in Kharkiv on April 3.

The regional military governor of Kharkiv said Sunday Russian forces had fired on a district of the city of Kharkiv, causing civilian casualties, and he warned of threats of missile strikes in the region. 

In a statement on Telegram, Oleh Syniehubov said, “In the evening, the occupiers fired on the Slobidsky district of Kharkiv. Unfortunately, there are civilian casualties. There are currently 23 casualties, including children. Full information is still being established.”

Syniehubov warned as well of “threats of missile strikes” south of Kharkiv in the community of Lozova. 

“We recommend evacuating the population. Tomorrow we plan to transport Lozova residents in the direction of the Poltava region by electric train,” he said. 

The military governor said the most intense fighting was in the vicinity of Izium. He claimed the Ukrainian Air Force shot down a Russian Su-34 bomber in the Izium area, taking the pilot prisoner. The claim could not be immediately verified.

European leaders condemn images from Bucha and call for investigation of Russian military

A Ukrainian soldier patrols a street in the town of Bucha in an armored vehicle on April 2.

The bodies of at least 20 civilian men were found strewn across a street in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area, according to disturbing images released by AFP on Saturday.

European leaders have condemned the alleged atrocities and called for an investigation into the Russian military. The Russian Ministry of Defense denied the allegations on Sunday.

Here’s a look at how leaders from around the continent are reacting:

UK: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Sunday accused Russian forces of committing “appalling acts” in the Ukrainian towns of Bucha and Irpin and demanded that they be investigated as war crimes.

“As Russian troops are forced into retreat, we are seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha,” Truss said in a statement on Sunday. 

Truss stressed that Russia should not be allowed to “cover up their involvement in these atrocities through cynical disinformation,” adding that the UK will play its part in ensuring this doesn’t occur. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also released a statement on Sunday condemning the events in Ukraine.

“Russia’s despicable attacks against innocent civilians in Irpin and Bucha are yet more evidence that Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine,” the statement said.

“No denial or disinformation from the Kremlin can hide what we all know to be the truth – Putin is desperate, his invasion is failing, and Ukraine’s resolve has never been stronger,” the leader added.

“I will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine. We are stepping up our sanctions and military support, as well as bolstering our humanitarian support package to help those in need on the ground,” the statement said.

Truss committed the UK’s full support to “any investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its role as the primary institution with the mandate to investigate and prosecute war crimes.” On March 24, the UK offered the ICC an additional £1 million funding to assist efforts to investigate Russian war crimes.

Last week, the Attorney General for England and Wales Suella Braverman offered the assistance of top UK lawyer Howard Morrison QC to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.

She said in a statement that he would “provide independent and expert legal advice to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova in relation to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.”

European Union: Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, tweeted on Sunday: “Appalled by reports of unspeakable horrors in areas from which Russia is withdrawing. An independent investigation is urgently needed.”

“Perpetrators of war crimes will be held accountable,” she continued.

European Parliament chief Roberta Metsola, who became the first leader of a European Union institution to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion began when she paid a visit to Kyiv on Friday, said the images from Bucha and other liberated areas in Ukraine show the “cold reality of Putin’s war crimes.”

In a tweet Sunday, Metsola said she was “appalled” by the “atrocities of Russian army in Bucha & other liberated areas” and stressed that the world must be made “aware of what is happening” in Ukraine and “tougher sanctions must be imposed” on Russia in retaliation. 

“The perpetrators & their commanders must be brought to justice,” she concluded. 

Germany: German chancellor Olaf Scholz called the Bucha images “terrible and horrifying” and said the perpetrators must be held accountable.

“We must relentlessly investigate these crimes committed by the Russian military. I demand that international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross be given access to these areas in order to independently document the atrocities. The perpetrators and those who commissioned them must be held consistently accountable,” Scholz said.

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, meanwhile, said the images coming out of the Ukrainian town of Bucha were “unbearable.”

Baerbock tweeted on Sunday that “Putin’s unrestrained violence wipes out innocent families and knows no boundaries,” and called for those responsible for “war crimes” to be held accountable.

“We will tighten the sanctions against Russia, and will support Ukraine even more with their defense,” she tweeted.

France: French President Emmanuel Macron also called the images of Bucha “unbearable.”

“The images that reach us from Bucha, a liberated city near Kyiv, are unbearable. In the streets, hundreds of civilians were cowardly murdered. My compassion for the victims, my solidarity with the Ukrainians,” Macron said in a tweet.

“The Russian authorities will have to answer for these crimes,” he added.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that if what he called “massive abuses” in Bucha, Ukraine turn out to be war crimes, those responsible will be “tried and convicted.”

“The strongest possible economic and international pressure must be maintained and reinforced on Russia to force the Russian authorities to put an end to the war of aggression that they launched on February 24 against Ukraine, the human cost and humanitarian impact of which are becoming more serious every day,” Le Drian said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

Italy: Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy on Sunday condemned Russia’s alleged violence against civilians in Bucha.

“The images of the crimes committed in Bucha and in the other areas liberated by the Ukrainian army leave us astonished,” he said in a statement released by his press office.

“The cruelty of the massacres of unarmed civilians is frightening and unbearable. The Russian authorities must immediately cease hostilities, stop the violence against civilians, and must account for what has happened,” he added.

Spain: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez expressed “horror, pain, and outrage” after seeing images of civilians killed in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, in a tweet on his official account on Sunday.

The war crimes that are being committed cannot go unpunished,” Sánchez said. “All our solidarity, help and support to the Ukrainian people.”

CNN’s Nathan Hodge, Max Foster, James Frater, Stephanie Halasz, Niamh Kennedy, Nicola Ruotolo and Amy Cassidy contributed reporting to this post.

UN secretary general: "Independent investigation" into civilians killed in Bucha is "essential"

The top UN official said an “independent investigation” into the civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine, is “essential” to ensure “effective accountability.”

“I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement Sunday.

“It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability,” he continued.

Regional military governor: 14 taken to hospital and 1 dead in shelling of Mykolaiv

Vitalii Kim, the regional military governor of Mykolaiv region, said a total of 14 people were taken to the hospital following the shelling of the city of Mykolaiv. 

“On the shelling of the city: 14 were taken to the hospital. 11 hospitalized, among them a child of 15 years with injuries of moderate severity. surgery tomorrow,” he said on Telegram. “One died, not saved.” 

It was not clear from the statement if the person who died was among those delivered to the hospital.

Here's what a CNN team on the scene of a mass grave in the Ukrainian town of Bucha saw 

People stand near a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine on April 3.

A mass grave has been discovered in the town of Bucha, in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, a CNN team found. 

Bodies were first buried in the grave, on the grounds of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, in the first days of the war, residents told CNN.

CNN saw at least a dozen bodies in body bags pilled inside the grave. Some were already partially covered. 

According to residents, more bodies are already buried on site. They said they belong mostly to civilians killed in the fighting around Bucha.

Residents told CNN that around 150 people are buried there. 

The mayor of Bucha said in public remarks on Saturday that there could be up to 300 victims buried on site.

CNN was unable to independently verify those numbers or the identities and nationalities of those buried in the grave.

The earth on the church grounds appeared to have been recently moved so it is feasible that a larger number of bodies is buried there. 

Bucha has seen some of the heaviest fighting since the war started. 

Destroyed Russian vehicles line the streets and most houses have been damaged in some way, with a large portion of the buildings there completely destroyed.

CNN’s Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen, producer Vasco Cotovio, producer Daria Markina and photojournalist Byron Blunt also saw people at the site of the mass grave crying and looking for the bodies of lost loved ones.

Listen to CNN’s eyewitness account:

Ukrainian city of Chernihiv mostly destroyed, mayor says

A man rides his bicycle near damaged residential buildings in Chernihiv, Ukraine on March 4.

The northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv is about 70% destroyed following an assault by Russian troops, Vladyslav Atroshenko, the city’s mayor, said Sunday.

The “consequences” of the attack by Russia in Chernihiv are “severe,” similar to the aftermath in other badly damaged cities and towns like Bucha, where bodies of civilians were found in the streets, as well as in Kharkiv and Mariupol, he said. 

The most urgent issues facing residents is a “concentration of Russian troops on the Belarusian border,” and concerns the city will be hit with more missiles and air bombs, Atroshenko added.

“Russians move around Ukraine like at home. And the fact that they left does not mean that they will not come back tomorrow. It takes about an hour and a half for them to get to us … Today we can say it is quiet, there is cleaning, there is demining,” he said.

A city market is damaged in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on March 30.

Ukrainian president reacts to images from Bucha: "This is genocide" 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday, April 2.

“This is genocide,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday, speaking after images emerged of civilian bodies strewn across the streets of Bucha, northwest of the capital of Kyiv, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area.

When asked during an appearance on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program if Russia is carrying out genocide in Ukraine, Zelensky replied: “Indeed. This is genocide.”

 “The elimination of the whole nation, and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities,” he continued. 

Ukraine doesn’t want to be “subdued to the policy of the Russian Federation,” Zelensky said, adding that this “is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated.”

“This is happening in the Europe of the 21st century. So, this is the torture of the whole nation,” the president stressed to viewers. 

The alleged atrocities in Bucha have drawn international outrage, with Western leaders calling for war crimes investigations and fresh sanctions on Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the State Department would help document any atrocities the Russian military committed against Ukrainian civilians. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the deaths of civilians in Bucha a “brutality” and said “I strongly welcome” an investigation by International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine.

Russia’s response: The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed the extensive footage was “fake,” saying “not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions,” during Russia’s occupation of Bucha. “In the settlements of the Kiev region, Russian military personnel delivered and issued 452 tons of humanitarian aid to civilians,” it said in a statement.

A separate statement claimed the footage was staged. “Stories about Bucha appeared in several foreign media outlets at once, which looks like a planned media campaign,” the statement said. “Taking into account that the troops left the city on March 30, where was the footage for four days? Their absence only confirms the fake.”

The Russian government has consistently responded to allegations of civilian casualties inflicted by Russian forces with blanket denials. After the Russian air force bombed a maternity hospital on March 9, Russian officials attempted to cast doubt on widespread media reports, with one Russian diplomat accusing a victim of the bombing — a woman who escaped from the bombing, bloodied and still pregnant — of being an actor and not a real victim.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the details around the men’s deaths. CNN had requested comment from the Russian defense ministry regarding allegations of the execution of civilians in the Kyiv region and other parts of Ukraine.

CNN’s Nathan Hodge, Chandelis Duster and Jeremy Herb contributed reporting to this post.

State Department spokesperson suggests US will take additional actions against Russia "very soon"

US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news conference on March 10, in Washington, DC.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price hinted at additional US action against Russia coming “very soon” when asked about Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s request for greater G7 sanctions in response to the latest atrocities in Bucha.  

“When it comes to our sanctions, we’ve always said that we will continue applying pressure on President Putin, on the Kremlin, on all of those around him including oligarchs and cronies who are empowering this war of choice against Ukraine, until and unless the Kremlin deescalates, until and unless the violence diminishes, and until and unless these kinds of atrocities come to an end. So I suspect you will very soon see additional pressure applied,” Price told MSNBC Sunday. 

“When it comes to these images out of Bucha, we have already assessed that Russia’s forces have committed war crimes. What we’re doing, we are collecting information. One, to shine a spotlight on precisely what they’re doing, but two, to ensure that all of those who have perpetrated these atrocities and all of those who ordered these atrocities are held to account. That’s our mission,” he continued.

Shocking images came to light from Bucha, Ukraine Saturday by Agence France-Presse of at least 20 civilian men dead and lining a single street. The photos were released the same day Ukraine declared the town liberated from Russian troops. Accounts of alleged Russian atrocities are emerging as its forces retreat from areas near Kyiv following a failed bid to encircle the capital.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the details around the men’s deaths and has requested comment from the Russian defense ministry regarding allegations of the execution of civilians in the Kyiv region and other parts of Ukraine.

Asked about peace talks, Price said, “We have not seen any indication yet that the Russians are truly serious about deescalating this war.” 

Price also dismissed reports that the Russian ruble is recovering from the sanctions, saying, “This is almost entirely artificial. The ruble is on life support with draconian measures that the Kremlin has been forced to take to artificially prop up the value of the ruble.”

Price noted that the government is preventing Russians and others from selling rubles “precisely to establish this floor and ensuring that the value we see reflected on the market isn’t actually the actual worth of the ruble today.”

“When it comes to the Russian economy, 30 years of economic integration have been undone in the past five weeks alone,” Price said.