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A boy walks past graves with bodies of civilians who, according to local residents, were killed by Russian soldiers in Bucha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine, on April 4.STRINGER/Reuters

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly accused Moscow of committing war crimes by murdering civilians in Ukraine and is urging International Criminal Court investigators to travel to locations of alleged atrocities as soon as possible.

But she stopped short of expelling Russian diplomats Monday as Germany, France and Lithuania have done.

Ms. Joly was speaking of accounts of alleged murder of civilians by Russian soldiers in Ukrainian cities such as Bucha, where hundreds of local residents were found dead in the wake of five weeks of Russian occupation.

“These are clearly war crimes; these are clearly crimes against humanity,” she told reporters during a press conference in Helsinki with her Finnish counterpart. “These acts cannot go unpunished.”

Also, Monday, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion over Bucha, declaring that “in light of the horrific and appalling reports,” MPs “condemn in the strongest terms possible” the crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian military and Russian backed forces.

The motion, put forward by NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson, also calls on the federal government to supply Ukraine further humanitarian, military and economic support and to impose punitive sanctions “on the Russian regime and oligarchs supporting it.”

Germany on Monday said it would expel 40 Russian diplomats with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock citing the civilian killings in Bucha.

“The images from Bucha testify to an unbelievable brutality on the part of the Russian leadership and those who follow its propaganda,” Ms. Baerbock said in a statement.

France said it would expel 35 Russian diplomats over the war in Ukraine, and Lithuania announced it was kicking out the Russian ambassador to Lithuania and recalling its envoy in Moscow.

Asked about the expulsions, Ms. Joly said she would “take stock” of them and would talk to “key cabinet ministers” in the Canadian government “to ensure we act properly.”

She said Canada will apply more sanctions to individuals and companies linked to Mr. Putin’s circle and the war on Ukraine.

Ms. Joly said the Group of Seven industrialized countries need to meet and better co-ordinate sanctions.

She said she intends to impose new sanctions on the nine Russian and nine Belarusian individuals who are “close associates of the Russian and Belarusian regimes” for having “facilitated and enabled violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.” The Department of Global Affairs could not immediately provide the names of those targeted.

The NDP’s Ms. McPherson, for her part, urged that Russia be removed from the UN Human Rights Council. The United States said Monday it will ask the UN General Assembly to do this.

A two-thirds majority vote by the 193-member assembly in New York can suspend a state for persistently committing gross and systematic violations of human rights.

The Commons motion also called on the federal government to help ensure Russia be held responsible for these crimes at the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

Ottawa is sending a specialized team of RCMP investigators to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to gather evidence of potential Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

The RCMP will also be given the task of interviewing Ukrainians who have come to Canada, for testimony of alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said last month.

Ukrainian servicemen walk on a destroyed street in Bucha on April 4.Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, British lawyer Karim Khan, has said there are grounds to believe war crimes have been carried out against Ukrainian civilians since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.

Mr. Khan announced on Feb. 28 that he would investigate suspected atrocities in Ukraine at the request of 39 ICC-member states, including Canada. He will examine possible war crimes on both sides of the conflict going as far back as Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The United States, Russia and Ukraine are not members of the court. Mr. Putin pulled the country out of the ICC in 2016 and said Moscow won’t extradite any suspects. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky authorized the court to investigate on its territory and a team of ICC investigators is collecting evidence in Ukraine.

The ICC began operations in 2002 and is modelled on the Nuremberg trials, when the U.S. and allied countries prosecuted top Nazi leaders in 1945 for war crimes.

With a report from Reuters

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