NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday said reports of civilians being executed and buried in mass graves in the Ukrainian city of Bucha are “horrific” and “absolutely unacceptable.”
Ukrainian officials have shared photos on social media showing several bodies lying in the streets of Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, with their hands tied behind their backs.
Some officials have said the individuals were shot dead by Russian troops, while Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedorur said 280 people had been buried in mass graves.
Asked by co-anchor Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” if the reports constitute a genocide, Stoltenberg said the incidents represent “a brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe for decades.”
“And it’s horrific, and it’s absolutely unacceptable that civilians are targeted and killed, and it just underlines the importance of, that this war must end. And that is President Putin’s responsibility, to stop the war,” Stoltenberg added.
The NATO chief emphasized the importance of the investigation an International Criminal Court prosecutor launched last month that is probing any claims of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed in any areas of Ukraine by any individuals.
“It is also extremely important that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine and that all facts are brought on the table, to the table, and that those responsible are held accountable,” he added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday told Bash in a separate interview that the images out of Bucha were “a punch in the gut.”
“You can’t help but see these images as a punch in the gut,” Blinken said when asked if he recognized evidence of crimes against humanity in the Kyiv suburb.