After the Russian retreat to several cities around Kiev at the request of the Kremlin to carry out its second phase of the invasion, the whole world discovered one of the greatest atrocities of the war in Ukraine. On 3 April, images of more than 300 civilians massacred in the city of Bucha, some 40 kilometres from the capital. Both Ukraine and the international community have condemned the killing as a war crime by Russian forces and many have called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the horror in Bucha.
Now, the German espionage service (BND) reveals conversations between Russian soldiers in Ukraine, to which the media ‘Der Spiegel’ has had access, which show that the Bucha massacre was premeditated. They caught radio conversations between Russian soldiers mentioning the deaths of civilians, the German media details that many of them are related to the massacre. A number of military personnel are engaged in discussions that prove that shooting at civilians was deliberately part of the strategy in their military offensive.
A member of the Russian troops tells another in the BND recordings how he and another soldier had shot a person on a bicycle. In another conversation, a man says that “first you ask civilians, then you shoot them”. The recordings are clear evidence of the harshness of the war in Ukraine. With the deliberate targeting of civilians, shelling of residential areas and obstruction of humanitarian corridors.
The German weekly detailed on Thursday that the recordings were presented on Wednesday in the Bundestag (German Parliament) and that from the espionage material it can be deduced that in the deaths of civilians were involved members of the Wagner Group, Syrian mercenaries hired by Russia. The mercenary group “stood out in its intervention in Syria for its special cruelty”.
Syrian hitmen have been involved in conflicts such as those in Libya, Syria and the Central African Republic. In Sudan, Mali and Mozambique have exerted Russian influence. They work as a private militia of Vladimir Putin and came to Ukraine from Africa on a mission to behead Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenski, according to the British Defense Ministry. The paramilitary group has been sanctioned by the European Union since 2021 and according to them has a history of “serious human rights abuses” such as “torture, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings”.
‘Der Spiegel’ underlined: “This suggests that the killing of civilians was part of the action of the Russian military, possibly part of a clear strategy. This is about spreading fear and terror among the civilian population to eliminate their resistance”.
In short, the Bucha massacre has strained diplomatic relations between Kiev and Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated that Ukraine’s position in the peace negotiations is now showing a setback. Both Kiev and the West strongly condemn the crimes of Bucha. The EU has prepared a new package of emergency sanctions after learning of the massacre, where the embargo on Russian coal would be included.
Since the United States Senate have voted to limit trade with Russia and veto its crude. The images in Bucha are heartbreaking, Ukrainian civilians and military working to clean the streets full of corpses.