Horror as Putin honours ‘heroism and courage’ of Bucha soldiers accused of war crimes

Troops in the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade were named as war criminals by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence earlier this month after mass graves containing murdered civilians were discovered in Bucha following Russia’s withdrawal from the area. However, in a signed letter on Monday, Putin congratulated the soldiers for their “great heroism and courage” and awarded the unit the title of “Guards” for “protecting Russia’s sovereignty.” Putin’s statement read: “Through astute and bold actions during the special military operation in Ukraine, the unit’s staff became a role model in fulfilling its military duty, valour, dedication and professionalism.”

Western leaders, including Boris Johnson and Joe Biden have publicly condemned the attacks on Bucha, so this move from Putin will be seen as a message to the West.

More than 500 bodies have been found in Bucha since the withdrawal of Russian forces.

Bodies were found with their hands tied and with bullet wounds, suggesting they had been shot at point-blank range.

Many of the bodies had also been tortured and burnt and girls as young as 14 have reported being raped by Russian soldiers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has blamed the Kremlin for the murders and has called on Russia to stop committing “war crimes.”

However, Moscow has denied any involvement in the attacks and has made baseless claims that the civilian bodies are fake and were set up to make Russia look bad.

During a visit to the towns of Bucha and Borodianka last week, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC are being committed.”

Mr Khan warned that it would be “challenging” to guarantee that justice would be served in Ukraine since Russia has withdrawn its signature from the ICC statute, which gives the court jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

Russia does not extradite its citizens to other countries.

Since its failed attempt at capturing Kyiv, Russia has refocused its troops on the Donbas region.

Yesterday, President Zelensky announced that the “Battle for Donbas” had begun.

source: express.co.uk