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Also inside: Scenes in Bucha prompt outrage, while Russia denies killing civilians, calling the photos and videos ‘staged’ to tarnish Moscow’s reputation

Cars lay crushed in the middle of the main road leading out of Bucha, Ukraine, on Sunday, April 3, 2022.IVOR PRICKETT/The New York Times News Service

This digest has now been archived. Find the latest Russia-Ukraine updates here.

Here are the latest updates on the war in Ukraine:

  • Global outrage grew on Monday after the discovery of dead civilians in parts of Ukraine, raising accusations of war crimes. Canada joined those call today. U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to collect evidence for a trial as the U.S. continues to arm Ukraine.
  • Deputy mayor of Bucha, a town near Kyiv, said a grave with hundreds of bodies was discovered over the weekend; the victims appeared to include women and children
  • Kremlin denied Ukraine’s allegations that its forces killed civilians near Kyiv, saying photos and videos have been ‘staged’ for Western media.
  • The Red Cross said it was still not able to reach the besieged city of Mariupol to evacuate citizens due to security concerns. Thousands are feared trapped.

6:45 p.m. ET

Zelensky says he will address UN Security Council on Tuesday

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said he will address the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, after saying it is in Kyiv’s interest to have the most open investigation into the killing of civilians in Ukraine.

Speaking on Monday, he said that in Bucha, where mass graves and bodies were found after Ukraine took the town back from Russian forces, at least 300 civilians have been killed, and he expects that in Borodyanka and other towns the number of casualties may be even higher.

“I would like to emphasise that we are interested in the most complete, transparent investigation, the results of which will be known and explained to the entire international community,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

- Reuters

5:49 p.m. ET

France to expel ‘numerous’ Russian diplomats

The French foreign ministry announced Monday that France has decided to expel “numerous” Russian diplomats, saying their “activities were contrary to our security interests.”

The announcement came hours after Germany said it was expelling 40 diplomat and Lithuania said it expelled the Russian ambassador and will recall its envoy in Moscow. No number was immediately given for how many are being expelled by France.

German news agency dpa quoted German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser as saying that the diplomats being expelled are those “whom we attribute to the Russian intelligence services.”

Faeser says that “we won’t allow this criminal war of aggression to also be conducted as an information war in Germany.”

-The Associated Press

4:00 p.m. ET

Foreign Minister Joly in Finland as calls grow for Russian war crimes trial

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is condemning Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians as abhorrent and senseless and says new Canadian sanctions are coming against Russia as a result.

“This weekend, the world witnessed an abhorrent and senseless attack on innocent civilian lives in Bucha,” said Joly during a trip to Helsinki Monday.

Her Finnish counterpart, Pekka Haavisto, echoed that condemnation.

Joly said Canada will provide additional funding to support the International Criminal Court investigation looking at Russia’s conduct since its invasion of Ukraine.

- The Canadian Press

2:00 p.m. ET

Putin’s Western accusers should examine own consciences, Lavrov says

Western leaders should examine their own consciences before accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

He said Moscow would hold a news conference later in the day to demonstrate that Western accusations that its soldiers killed civilians in Northern Ukraine were false.

The Kremlin categorically denied any accusations related to the murder of civilians, including in Bucha, where it said the graves and corpses had been staged by Ukraine to tarnish Russia.

Asked at a news conference about Biden’s comments, Lavrov said the West should first consider its own actions in Iraq and Libya.

“Not all is well with the conscience… of American politicians,” he said.

- Reuters

1:35 p.m. ET

Canada to impose sanctions on nine Russian, nine Belarusian individuals

Canada said on Monday it will impose sanctions on nine Russian and nine Belarusian individuals for having “facilitated and enabled” Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“By enabling (Russian President) Vladimir Putin’s senseless invasion of Ukraine, these close collaborators of the regime are complicit in the horrific events unfolding before our eyes,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement.

The individuals are close associates of the Russian and Belarusian regimes, according to the statement.

- Reuters

12:55 p.m. ET

Ukraine’s northern regions say Russian troops have mostly withdrawn

Officials in Ukraine’s northern regions said on Monday Russian troops there had fully withdrawn or significantly reduced in number, leaving mines and damaged military vehicles behind.

Ukraine has reported Russian troops drawing back or being pushed back in the north since Russia announced last Tuesday that it would scale down its operations there to focus on battles in the east.

The governor of Zhytomyr region, which is west of Kyiv, said no Russian troops remained on its territory.

Russia’s defence ministry has not responded to a request for comment on previous allegations that withdrawing troops are planting mines in civilian areas.

- Reuters

12:08 p.m. ET

Russia has withdrawn two-thirds of forces near Kyiv, U.S. official says

A handout picture taken and released on April 4, 2022 by Ukrainian presidential press service shows Ukainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) walking in the town of Bucha, northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.STR/AFP/Getty Images

Russia has repositioned about two thirds of its forces from around Kyiv, with many consolidating in Belarus where they are expected to be refit, resupplied and redeployed elsewhere in Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday.

Over the weekend, Ukraine said its forces had seized back all areas around Kyiv, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched the invasion.

The U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters the United States estimated that prior to the pullback, there had been just under 20 battalion tactical groups focused on Kyiv. That was less than a sixth of the battalion tactical groups that the Kremlin deployed for the invasion.

“We still assess that the vast, vast majority of the more than 125 battalion tactical groups that the Russians invested in this invasion are still in Ukraine,” the official said.

The official estimated that Russian forces that had withdrawn from around Kyiv would likely be redirected towards eastern Ukraine, but that was still not confirmed.

“What we continue to believe is that they’re going to be refit, resupplied, perhaps maybe even reinforced with additional manpower and then sent back into Ukraine to continue fighting elsewhere,” the official said.

As Russian troops regrouped for battles in east Ukraine, towns surrounding Kyiv bore scars of five weeks of fighting.


11:09 a.m. ET

Biden: Putin should face war crimes trial for Bucha killings

President Joe Biden points and walks towards a presidential limousine at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Monday, April 4, 2022, as he returns to Washington.Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday called for war crimes trial against Russia President Vladimir Putin and said he’d seek more sanctions after reported atrocities in Ukraine.

“You saw what happened in Bucha,” Biden said. He added that Putin “is a war criminal”

Biden’s comments to reporters came after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Bucha, one of the towns surrounding Kyiv where Ukrainian officials say the bodies of civilians have been found. Zelenskyy called the Russian actions “genocide” and called for the West to apply tougher sanctions against Russia.

Biden, however, stopped short of calling the actions genocide.

-The Associated Press

11:03 a.m. ET

Opinion: Putin’s war will destroy Russia

A grim old Soviet joke probably rings far too true to Ukrainians today. A Frenchman says, “I take the bus to work, but when I travel around Europe, I use my Peugeot.” A Russian replies, “We, too, have a wonderful system of public transportation, but when we go to Europe, we use a tank.”

That joke emerged in 1956, when Nikita Khrushchev ordered tanks into Budapest to crush the anti-Soviet Hungarian Revolution, and reappeared in 1968, when Leonid Brezhnev sent tanks to Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring. But in 1989, when Mikhail Gorbachev chose not to send tanks or troops to Germany to preserve the Berlin Wall, the quip seemed set to become a thing of the past. If President Vladimir Putin has shown us anything, however, it is that we cannot believe the present, and all that matters for Russia’s future is its past. Read full article.

-Nina L. Khrushcheva

10:03 a.m. ET

Russian forces are blocking Mariupol evacuation efforts, Ukraine says

Local residents walk along a street next to a building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 3, 2022.ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/Reuters

Buses meant for the rescue of civilians from Mariupol were not able to reach the besieged southern Ukrainian city on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

In comments on national television, she accused Russian forces of blocking the International Red Cross’s evacuation efforts and said 100 Turkish citizens were still trapped in Mariupol.

Repeated efforts to organise mass evacuations of the city have failed, with both sides trading blame.


9:52 a.m. ET

U.S. pushes to suspend Russia from Human Rights Council

The United States will ask the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Monday, after Ukraine accused Russian troops of killing dozens of civilians in the town of Bucha.

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

Speaking in Bucharest on Monday, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “Russia’s participation on the Human Rights Council is a farce.

“And it is wrong, which is why we believe it is time the UN General Assembly vote to remove them.”

Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters she aimed to put the move to suspend Russia to a vote in the General Assembly this week.

Since the Ukraine invasion began on Feb. 24, the Assembly has adopted two resolutions denouncing Russia with at least 140 yes votes. Moscow says it is carrying out a “special military operation” to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

“My message to those 140 countries who have courageously stood together is: the images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us to now match our words with action,” Thomas-Greenfield, visiting Romania to see how it is coping with an influx of Ukraine refugees, told reporters.


9:16 a.m. ET

UN rights chief says Bucha dead raise possible war crimes questions

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Monday the discovery of dead civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha raised questions about possible war crimes.

On Sunday, Reuters saw corpses in Bucha including one man who lay sprawled by the roadside with his hands tied behind his back and a bullet wound to his head. The city’s deputy mayor said that 50 dead residents had been victims of extra-judicial killings carried out by Russian troops.

The Kremlin categorically denied any accusations related to the murder of civilians in Bucha. Reuters was unable to independently verify who was responsible for the killings.

“Reports emerging from this (Bucha) and other areas raise serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes, grave breaches of international humanitarian law and serious violations of international human rights law,” Bachelet said in a statement, saying she was horrified by the reports.

She stressed the need to exhume all the bodies and identify them so that families may be informed and the exact causes of death established.

The UN human rights office has some 50 staff in Ukraine who have been monitoring the civilian death toll since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. So far it has confirmed the deaths of 1,430 civilians, adding that the real toll is likely considerably higher because of verification difficulties.


8:38 a.m. ET

Ukrainian prosecutor general accuses Russian forces of crimes against humanity

A woman cries while waiting along with others for distribution of food products in the village of Motyzhyn, Ukraine, which was until recently under the control of the Russian military, Sunday, April 3, 2022.VADIM GHIRDA/The Associated Press

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on Monday many acts by Russian forces were classifiable as crimes against humanity and Ukraine was in this context investigating their actions in areas of the Kyiv region including Bucha.

Speaking on national television, Venediktova said the situation in the town of Borodyanka was the worst in the Kyiv region in terms of the number of victims. She gave no further details. Ukrainian authorities said on Sunday they were investigating possible crimes by Russian forces after finding hundreds of bodies strewn around towns including Bucha outside the capital Kyiv after the Russian withdrawal from the area.

Lavrov said the dead bodies were “staged” and that images of them and what he said was Ukraine’s false version of events had been spread on social media by Western countries and Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ukraine’s version of what happened in the town of Bucha was a “fake attack” aimed at undermining Moscow, the TASS news agency reported.


7:52 a.m. ET

U.S. seizes yacht owned by oligarch with close ties to Putin

Spanish Civil Guards stand by the Tango superyacht, suspected to belong to a Russian oligarch, as it is docked at the Mallorca Royal Nautical Club, in Palma de Mallorca, in the Spanish island of Mallorca, Spain, April 4, 2022.JUAN POYATES OLIVER/Reuters

The U.S. government seized a mega yacht in Spain owned by an oligarch with close ties to the Russian president on Monday, the first in the government’s sanctions enforcement initiative to “seize and freeze” giant boats and other pricey assets of Russian elites.

Spain’s Civil Guard and U.S. federal agents descended on the yacht at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Associated Press reporters at the scene saw police going in and out of the boat on Monday morning.

The seizure was confirmed by two people familiar with the matter. The people could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity. A Spanish Civil Guard spokesman confirmed that officers from the Spanish police body and from the FBI were at the marina searching the vessel Monday morning and said further details would be released later.

-The Associated Press

7:20 a.m. ET

Opinion: Canada needs a unified approach for people fleeing Ukraine and Afghanistan

Elena Kravchenko (L) and Yulia Slobudchikova sit on a bed together in a shelter for displaced people after having to flee their hometown of Dnipro on April 04, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It is hard to rationalize the strikingly different approaches the Canadian government has taken to two major refugee crises in Ukraine and Afghanistan.

There have been benefits offered to Ukrainians looking to escape the Russian invasion, but not to Afghans fleeing the Taliban’s takeover, including authorization for emergency travel to enter Canada on a temporary basis with open work permits for up to three years. In addition, the government has promised to develop a family-reunification sponsorship program for both immediate and extended-family members. Read full article.

-Naomi Alboim and Karen Cohl

7:09 a.m. ET

JPMorgan warns of potential $1-billion loss from Russia exposure

JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon warned on Monday that the bank could lose about $1-billion on its Russia exposure, the first time it has detailed the extent of its potential losses resulting from the conflict in Ukraine.

In his keenly watched annual letter to shareholders, the chairman and chief executive of the biggest U.S. bank by assets also urged the United States to increase its military presence in Europe and reiterated a call for it to develop a plan to ensure energy security for itself and its allies. Read full story.

6:50 a.m. ET

Village leader and family found buried in shallow grave outside Ukrainian capital

A woman waits for distribution of food products in the village of Motyzhyn, Ukraine, which was until recently under the control of the Russian military, Sunday, April 3, 2022.VADIM GHIRDA/The Associated Press

The head of the village of Motyzhyn, her husband and son were killed and buried in a shallow grave, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry said on Monday, showing their partially covered bodies in the sand.

Since Russian troops withdrew from towns and villages around the Ukrainian capital Kyiv last week, Ukrainian troops have been moving in, showing journalists corpses of what they say are civilians killed by Russian forces, destroyed houses and burnt out cars.

Reuters could not independently verify who killed the family in the grave just outside Motyzhyn, west of Kyiv. Moscow has denied targeting civilians and has said similar reports of killings were “staged” to sully Russia’s name.

“There have been Russian occupiers here. They tortured and murdered the whole family of the village head,” said Anton Herashchenko, naming those killed as Olha Sukhenko, her husband Ihor Sukhenko and their son, Oleksandr.

“The occupiers suspected they were collaborating with our military, giving us locations of where to target our artillery. These scum tortured, slaughtered and killed the whole family. They will be responsible for this.”

A Reuters reporter saw the bodies in a forest near a farm, which had been all but destroyed, just outside the village of Motyzhyn. Nearby a burnt out tractor could be seen and one of those buried in the sand had his head taped.


6:03 a.m. ET

Global outcry at civilian killings near Kyiv

Russia faced a fresh wave of condemnation on Monday after evidence emerged of what appeared to be deliberate killings of civilians in Ukraine. Some Western leaders called for further sanctions in response to the alleged atrocities, even as Moscow continued to press its offensive in the country’s east.

Germany’s defense minister suggested the European Union discuss a ban on Russian gas imports, but more senior officials indicated an immediate boycott was not possible — a sign that leaders could struggle in the short-term to ramp up already severe sanctions on Russia.

Ukrainian officials said bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around the capital, Kyiv, that were recaptured from Russian forces in recent days. In Bucha, northwest of the capital, Associated Press journalists saw 21 bodies. One group of nine, all in civilian clothes, were scattered around a site that residents said Russian troops used as a base. They appeared to have been shot at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs.

The images of battered bodies lying in the streets or hastily dug graves unleashed a wave of outrage that could signal a turning point in the nearly 6-week-old war. But sanctions have thus far failed to halt the offensive, and rising energy prices along with the tight controls on Russian currency market have blunted their impact, with the ruble rebounding strongly after initially crashing.

Western and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of war crimes before, and the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has opened a probe to investigate the conflict. But the latest reports ratcheted up the condemnation even further, with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and some Western leaders going so far as to accuse Russia of genocide.

Russia’s Defense Ministry rejected the accusations. It said photos and videos of dead bodies “have been stage managed by the Kyiv regime for the Western media.” The ministry said “not a single civilian” in Bucha faced any violent military action.

-The Associated Press

5:40 a.m. ET

As atrocities in Bucha stir global horror, some Ukrainian refugees return home to Kyiv region, hopeful worst is over

People react as they gather close to a mass grave in town of Bucha, just northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 3, 2022.SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

As images of brutality in the suburbs of Kyiv stirred global horror and demands for war-crimes investigations, a Russian retreat that has left behind corpses on streets also brought new hope to Ukrainians returning to parts of their country.

The Canadian government on Sunday joined in condemnation of what Human Rights Watch has called “apparent war crimes” in Bucha, a satellite city of the Ukrainian capital. In that small centre and others nearby, now abandoned by Russian forces after weeks of intense fighting, civilians have been found dead, with their hands tied and gunshots to the backs of their heads. Bucha’s mayor told AFP that a recently discovered mass grave contained nearly 300 bodies, including women and a 14-year-old boy. Read full story.

-The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe

5:37 a.m. ET

Russia maintains gas deliveries as Europe moots fresh sanctions

Russia maintained gas flows through key pipeline routes into Europe on Monday, despite uncertainty over payment terms and as European leaders called for more sanctions against Moscow after war crimes allegations in Ukraine.

Physical gas flows through the Yamal-Europe pipeline, at Germany’s Mallnow point see-sawed over the weekend and last stood at zero, data from operator Gascade showed.

Nominations, or requests, for Russian gas deliveries via Slovakia’s Velke Kapusany entry point from Ukraine were steady on Monday, as were flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany.

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom said it was continuing to supply natural gas to Europe via Ukraine in line with requests from European consumers.

However, questions remain over future deliveries in light of the Kremlin’s demand that buyers start paying Gazprom in roubles.

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger confirmed over the weekend that his country will act in unison with the European Union against such payment demands.

Calls for a new round of sanctions to hit Russia’s economy also emerged over the weekend after reports of possible war crimes following the discovery of hundreds of bodies, some bound and shot at close range, around towns near Kyiv after Kremlin forces withdrew. Read full story.