By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Footage emerged Sunday of more mass killings near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as the death toll rises in the Russian-Ukrainian war that Europe fears will escalate into cross border bloodbath.
Reporters visiting the Ukrainian village of Buzova witnessed charred corpses strewn across the road. Mangled bodies piled on top of each other, one man lying in a field with a bullet in his head.
Local Ukrainians say that Russian forces killed as many as 50 civilians as they tried to flee fighting northwest of Kyiv last month. The bodies lay along or near the M06 highway, which runs west from Kyiv, the capital, to the city of Zhytomyr.
Russia has consistently denied that its military deliberately targets civilians. It has even described previous footage of suspected mass killings as “fake” or Ukrainian propaganda.
The footage came after Western leaders visited Kyiv, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson strolling mainly empty streets in the Ukrainian capital accompanied by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Heavily armed troops and special forces provided protection. An emotional man thanked Johnson for visiting Kyiv, which Russian troops had tried to capture before retreating and focusing on the country’s east.
Footage of Johnson’s visit came as evidence of another example of potential Russian war crimes was found 17 miles (27.2 kilometers) from Bucha, near Kyiv, another massacre site.
Ukrainian authorities said the latest killings revealed Sunday happened before Russians pulled out of the area last week. “I now call it the road of death,” added Taras Didych, the mayor of the district, Dmytrivka, where most of the bodies were found.
The highway strings together the towns and villages recently retaken from Russian forces. They were pushed back and retreated after their failed attempt to take the capital. “We are just coming back to life,” The New York Times newspaper quoted the mayor as saying.
Didych shared the grim findings he encountered when he returned to the road last week. “Some were burned. Others had their hands tied. Others were shot in the head outside their cars,” Didych explained.
Those descriptions corresponded to images he shared with The New York Times that Didych claimed he had taken on his phone at the scene.
Most of the bodies appear to have been shot and burned, either because the vehicles they were riding in caught fire or because the cars were intentionally torched.
“They were trying to flee,” Didych explained. “Some could not manage to make it.” Didych said it wasn’t clear when the killings took place or if they had all happened simultaneously.
He said it was more likely that Russian forces killed families intermittently as they tried to escape their homes during the month that invading troops occupied this strip of territory outside of Kyiv.
Most of the dead were found near a hotel called Babushkin Sad, or Granny’s Garden, between the towns of Mriia and Myla, reporters said. The names of the sites mean “dream” and “pleasant village,” the mayor said.
“My heart was bleeding,” he recalled when he discovered the scene on the road. “This may have been the worst experience of my life.”
Two other bodies, which the mayor said were Ukrainian soldiers, were found in a grave dug outside a nearby gas station. They were still wearing their uniforms, he explained.
The mayor said that as of Sunday, 60 bodies had been found in his district, which includes 14 villages. Russian forces had destroyed at least 60 private homes and three supermarkets, as well as municipal water tanks and an ambulance facility, he added.
The discovery was made after similar crimes were discovered in nearby Bucha. In Bucha, the European Union’s executive European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that hundreds were murdered.
She told reporters that “the unthinkable has happened here.”
“We have seen the cruel face of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s army. We have seen the recklessness and the cold-heartedness with which they have been occupying the city,” she added.
Russia was accused of similar cold-heartedness in eastern Ukraine, where dozens of people died over the weekend in a suspected Russian missile strike on a train station in Kramatorsk.
Russia has reorganized the command of its flagging offensive in Ukraine, selecting for the mission a general accused of ordering strikes on civilian neighborhoods in Syria.
Saturday’s appointment of the general, Aleksandr V. Dvornikov, as the top battlefield commander came as Western nations poured more weapons into the country.
Britain announced that it was sending missiles that target aircraft, tanks, and even ships. And Slovakia reportedly handed the Ukrainian military a long-range S-300 air defense system with the blessing of the United States.
In another show of support for Ukraine, Prime Minister Johnson discussed a “new package of financial and military aid,” the British government confirmed.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.