The UN Security Council met Tuesday and heard from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as it discusses allegations that Russia deliberately targeted civilians in the town of Bucha outside the capital Kyiv.
The apparent deaths of unarmed civilians left on the streets following the Russian military's withdrawal from Bucha sparked global outrage and condemnation as Russian government attempts to deny the widely and independently documented apparent atrocities.
What did Zelenskyy say?
"Yesterday I returned from Bucha," Zelenskyy said during his address. "There is not a single crime they would not commit there."
"They killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies," Zelenskyy added.
He said, "The massacre in our city of Bucha is only one, unfortunately only one example of what the occupiers have been doing on our territory for the past 41 days."
He urged full accountability for Russian actions on Ukraine's territory and said Russia's goal was to turn Ukrainians into "silent slaves."
What did UN officials say?
Zelenskyy's virtual address was proceeded by briefings from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and several top aides including UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths who met senior Russian government officials in Moscow on Monday and heads to Ukraine shortly.
Guterres said in his opening remarks the war involved the invasion of one UN member state by another and had led to global instability especially impacting the developing world as both Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of food, fuel and fertilizers.
"The war in Ukraine must stop now," Guterres said.
He added that Russia's invasion of Ukraine presented one of the greatest challenges ever to the global order, "because of its nature, intensity, and consequences."
Griffiths said, "Ukrainian civilians are paying far too high a price for this war."
On Monday, the UK, which holds the UN Security Council presidency this month, announced Zelenskyy's appearance Tuesday to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
What happened in Bucha?
Widely circulated photos show civilians, some with hands bound behind their back, dead on the streets of Bucha.
The images have led to revulsion over Russian actions in Ukraine, calls for tougher sanctions as well as its suspension from the UN Human Rights Council.
Ukraine's prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova said the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Bucha and other nearby towns recently retaken from Russian forces.
Zelenskyy has said 300 bodies were recovered in Bucha.
What has been the response of Russia and the UN?
Russia's ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia accused Ukraine of manipulating international opinion, staging atrocities and being run by Nazis. He said Russia sought to bring peace to "the blood-soaked lands of Donbas."
DW's correspondent in Ukraine Nick Connolly said it was "very hard to see" how the killings could have been staged.
The UN Security Council remains paralyzed by inaction over Ukraine. Zelenskyy called for it to disband if it could do nothing over the war in his country. Russia is one of the Security Council's five permanent members, all of which have the power to vote down any resolution in the chamber. As a result, the body has always struggled to impose any statements or orders that displease Russia, China, the US, Britain or France.
On Monday, the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said she would introduce a resolution to the 193-member General Assembly to block Russia's role on the UN Human Rights Council.
ar/msh (AP, Reuters)