Russia's Bucha horrors are pushing India, Turkey, other studiously neutral countries to the brink of condemnation

·2 min read

The horrific images and stories of Russian torture, executions, rape, and other atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, have prompted new sanctions from Western nations and calls for war crimes prosecutions.

Pope Francis on Wednesday kissed a battered Ukrainian flag "from that martyred city Bucha," fount of "testimony of new atrocities" and "horrendous cruelty carried out against civilians, defenseless women and children," the "victims whose innocent blood cries up to the sky and implores that this war be stopped."

Pope Francis kisses Ukrainian flag
Pope Francis kisses Ukrainian flag

Franco Origlia/Getty Images

There is convincing evidence, despite Moscow's denials, that Russia is responsible for the war crimes in Bucha. Countries with closer ties with Russia than the Vatican have started condemning the horrors documented out of Bucha and other areas of Ukraine under recent Russian occupation. Most aren't explicitly pinning the blame on Moscow, though they're now tiptoeing up to that line.

"The images of the massacre ... are horrifying and sad for humanity," Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. "The targeting of innocent civilians is unacceptable. It is our basic expectation that the issue is subjected to an independent investigation, that those responsible are identified and are held accountable." Turkey has been striving to be an honest broker between Kyiv and Moscow.

India, which continues to buy Russian oil and has abstained from United Nations votes condemning Russia for its Ukraine invasion, called the Bucha reports "deeply disturbing" on Tuesday. "We unequivocally condemn these killings and support the call for an open investigation," India's U.N. ambassador T.S. Tirumurti said. China's U.N. ambassador and Foreign Ministry also called the Bucha reports "deeply disturbing" and called for an investigation.

Cracks are also showing in countries trying to keep neutral on Russia.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday went much further than Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, saying "Russian forces committed war crimes against a defenseless civilian population" and reiterating "Israel's condemnation of the Russian invasion and the war crimes we have been exposed to in recent days." Bennett has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and is careful not to blame Russia.

And even as India's government made what the BBC calls "the strongest statement it has made since Russia invaded Ukraine," the opposition Congress Party said India's position is becoming untenable. "Russia has been a trusted friend of India, and it has been a long-standing ally," lawmaker Manish Tewari said in Parliament. But "friends also have to be told if they are wrong, that they possibly need to get their act together."

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