Russian President Vladimir Putin called the mass killing of civilians in Bucha “fake” and praised Russia’s “noble” war against Ukraine during a visit to eastern Russia with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko yesterday.
“When it comes to Bucha … it’s the exact same fake as in Syria,” Putin said, in reference to Russian claims from 2018 that the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian war was staged by foreign agents. Bucha was “a psychological operation staged by Englishmen,” Lukashenko added.
After Russian troops partially withdrew from Bucha, a town outside of Kyiv, earlier this month, authorities discovered roads lined with civilians apparently tied up and shot at close range, as well as mass graves of local residents. Russia has repeatedly denied it was responsible, but numerous media outlets have independently shown that it was unlikely the scenes were staged by Ukraine.
The Russian president was on a joint visit with the Belarusian premier to the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far east to celebrate “Space Day” and discuss the two countries’ space industries.
“What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy … but they left us no choice,” Putin said, adding that Russia’s military “goals are absolutely clear and noble.”
Also yesterday, Russian military claimed that it launched strikes on 32 military targets in Ukraine during the night.
The spokesman for the Russian DefenCe Ministry, Igor Konashenkov made the announcement.
“The remnants of the Ukrainian armed forces trapped on the territory of the Ilyich plant [iron and steel works] made an unsuccessful attempt to break out of the city,” said Konashenkov.
According to him, around 100 Ukrainian soldiers attempted to break out; half of them were killed. This information was initially not independently verifiable.
The Russian military had previously reported on the extensive capture of Mariupol. Remaining Ukrainian forces were entrenched in another steel plant in the city called Azovstal.
Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the pro-Russian separatists, suggested on Monday that the Ukrainians there, especially members of the nationalist Azov regiment, should be “smoked out” with chemical weapons.
The Azov regiment then reported that poison gas had been used, but this has not yet been confirmed by the official Ukrainian side.