According to the “New York Times”, additional evidence was provided by the questioning of witnesses who said they observed the process. Among them are local residents and a volunteer Ukrainian soldier who was shot during the March 4 operations.
As a result, the soldiers led the men behind an office building that the occupying forces were using as a base – then gunshots were heard. Drone video taken the next day shows the bodies of the victims next to the same building, guarded by two Russian soldiers – Russian military vehicles are parked around the corner.
The victims were probably executed one by one
A man in a blue sweater is particularly striking in the footage – he can be seen in the videos and was equally visible in photographs taken in early April after Russian troops left Bucha and show casualties.
Evidence that the men behind the office building were executed is believed to be one of the few pieces of evidence released to date showing war crimes committed by Russian units. Interviews with witnesses revealed that Ukrainians were shot one by one behind the house, sometimes interrupted by interrogations inside the makeshift base. Russian soldiers were assigned to Russian paratroop units using additional surveillance footage.
Before being killed, the men hid at a neighbor’s house
In addition to analyzing the footage, New York Times reporters stayed in Bucha for weeks to talk to eyewitnesses and Ukrainian security forces about what happened during the occupation. According to their own statements, they also spoke to the families of the victims.
Those killed were factory or grocery store workers, not professional soldiers. According to research, almost all of them lived in Bucha before the invasion began. After the Russian invasion, they later joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The men were well aware of the danger
Prior to their alleged execution, the men, who were stationed at a Ukrainian checkpoint, hid in the home of a local resident overnight. Relatives reported the text messages from the men, well aware of their dangerous situation. “Don’t call. I’ll call later,” the man in the blue sweater reportedly wrote to his best friend.
After the discovery by Russian soldiers, the owner of the house who had offered protection to the men was also taken away. According to research, he was also shot behind the office building.
Ukraine: 11,000 ongoing war crimes investigations
The alleged executions are “the kind of incident that could become a strong case for war crimes prosecutions,” Stephen Rapp, former US special envoy for war crimes, told The New York Times. The acts are punishable under martial law as the footage clearly shows the men were unarmed and under the control of Russian soldiers before they were killed – they were “out of combat”, Rapp said.