Russian retreat reveals devastation in Ukrainian streets; US, allies collecting evidence of war crimes: April 3 recap – USA TODAY

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This story covers news out of the war in Ukraine on Sunday, April 3. For the latest updates, click here.
Ukrainians returning to Kyiv as Russian forces pulled out over the weekend found a shocking trail of destruction and death, including slain civilians lying on the streets with their hands bound.
Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, said on Facebook that the bodies of 410 civilians were removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said scores of the dead were found on the streets of Bucha – about 35 miles northwest of Kyiv – and the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel in what looked like a “scene from a horror movie.”
Arestovych said some people were shot in the head and had their hands bound, and some bodies showed signs of torture, rape and burning. Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told Agence France-Presse that 280 people had been buried in mass graves in the city, and reporters from the news organization counted at least 20 bodies on one street.
Zelenskyy said Sunday that the deadly attacks on civilians – including evidence of a massacre in Bucha – are more proof that Russia is committing “genocide” in his country.
Noting that Ukraine’s population includes more than 100 nationalities, Zelenskyy told CBS’ “Face The Nation” that Russia’s actions are “about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities. We are citizens of Ukraine, and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of the Russian Federation.”
While Russia redeploys troops in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, Zelenskyy called for a total Russian withdrawal from Ukraine. There are no signs Russia would consider such a move as part of peace talks. “This is the bare minimum that we have to start the de-occupation with,” he said. 
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Latest developments:
►The Russians are holding 11 mayors in captivity in the Kyiv, Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Donetsk regions, and they killed another one, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchukf said in a social media posting.
►Enrico Letta, the leader of Italy’s Democratic Party, called for a boycott of Russian oil and gas in reaction to images of atrocities against civilians by Russian soldiers retreating from Kyiv. Italy gets 40% of its natural gas from Russia.
►At the conclusion of a two-day trip to Malta, Pope Francis urged about 20,000 people in attendance during a Sunday Mass to “think of the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in the martyred Ukraine, which continues to be bombarded in this sacrilegious war.”
►The president of Lithuania on Saturday announced it would no longer import Russian gas, making it the first nation in the European Union to achieve independence from Russian gas supplies. 
►Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party, said he’s open to the permanent stationing of U.S. nuclear weapons in his country as a deterrence against Russian aggression.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the 64th Grammy Awards Sunday, speaking in a pre-recorded segment shown at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena before John Legend performed a tribute to the war-torn country.
Zelenskyy urged music artists assembled to “tell our story” of his country facing a humanitarian crisis since Russia’s invasion in February. He described the devastating impact on life and music. 
“The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars,” said Zelenskyy. Read more here.
— Bryan Alexander
Amid a flood of new pictures of murdered civilians in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that allies are collecting evidence of war crimes by Russia.
“We can’t become numb to this, we can’t normalize this,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“We will look hard and document everything that we see, put it all together,” he said.
Blinken did a round of Sunday show as news organizations flashed pictures of slain civilians and property destruction after Russian troops withdrew from Bucha, near Kyiv. He described the Bucha massacre as a “punch in the gut.”
The secretary of state expressed cautious optimism about signs of Russian withdrawal from areas around Kyiv. He noted that the Russians also appear to be redeploying to the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine.
“They could be regrouping,” Blinken said.
Either way, Blinken said the war has already been a “dramatic strategic setback” for Russia, and that the Ukrainian people have made it clear they will not be subjugated by a Russian occupation.
– David Jackson
As Ukrainian forces moved to retake control of areas surrounding Kyiv from retreating Russians, they proceeded with caution to avoid unexploded ordnance and boobytrapped streets and homes, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukraine officials said.
Zelenskyy said Russians were leaving behind a “catastrophic” situation: land mines in streets, civilian homes and even on dead civilian bodies. Ukrainian soldiers were removing bodies from the streets with caution.
Residents of the town of Bucha said civilians were killed without apparent provocation. 
The European Union will level new sanctions in the wake of killings of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, the president of the European Council said Sunday. Charles Michel, tweeting about “haunting images” out of Bucha, said “further EU sanctions & support are on their way.”
Several other European leaders condemned the atrocities, and Germany’s defense minister even suggested the EU consider banning Russian gas imports, which many of the member countries depend on.
The EU is helping Ukraine and nongovernmental organizations gather evidence for investigations of Russia by international courts for its actions in Ukraine, he said. The U.N.’s International Court of Justice last month ruled that Russia should “immediately suspend” its military operations in Ukraine.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko is among the officials accusing Russia of war crimes, telling the German newspaper BILD: “What happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide.”
In an interview published Saturday, the former chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunals, Carla Del Ponte, called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin is a war criminal,” she told Swiss newspaper Le Temps.
– Katie Wadington
In the age of social media and widespread disinformation, a new weapon has emerged to counter aggression by a foreign power – the revelation of intelligence secrets.
The kind of assessments that were previously kept under wraps are now being shared by U.S. and British intelligence agencies in an effort to expose what is happening on the battlefield – and inside the Kremlin – during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Even before the war began Feb. 24, U.S. officials detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to attack Ukraine and create a false flag operation as a pretext for going to war. This past week, the U.S. publicized its findings that Putin was being misled by his military advisers, and Britain’s spy chief said demoralized Russian troops were refusing to carry out orders and sabotaging their own equipment.
Mark Galeotti, a Russia expert at University College London, said the public intelligence campaign “reflects the fact that we now live in a different age, politically and internationally. And this is a different kind of war.”
Russia’s war in Ukraine is widely blamed for a drastic increase rise in gas prices. The vehicles the fuel goes into are getting more expensive as well.
The global auto industry has yet to overcome the pandemic-induced shortage of computer chips and other vital parts that has shrunk production, slowed deliveries and sent prices for new and used cars soaring. Now it faces another major challenge.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, a key producer of electrical wiring, has led to a scarcity of that vital component. And if Russian exportation of metals such as palladium for catalytic converters and nickel for electric vehicle batteries gets disrupted or halted, the cost of vehicles amid surging demand figures to continue rising.
Mark Fulthorpe, an executive director for S&P Global, expects a tight supply and high prices well into 2023. 
“Until inflationary pressures start to really erode consumer and business capabilities, it’s probably going to mean that those who have the inclination to buy a new vehicle, they’ll be prepared to pay top dollar,” Fulthorpe said.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Sunday dismissed questions surrounding Friday’s explosion at a Russian fuel depot in Belgorod. The attacked facility housed civilian-used petroleum.
While the Russians have pinned the attack on Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declined to take responsibility for it. The attack was the first inside Russia since it invaded its neighbor Feb. 24.
Kirby, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” also declined to attribute the attack to the Ukrainians: “I’ll let (Zelenskyy) speak to the operations that they conduct, that’s the appropriate thing. We want to preserve as much of their operational security as we can.”
The Pentagon spokesman emphasized that the Ukrainians have a right to defend themselves and that the U.S. is focused on helping them do that. “Russia is the aggressor and they are attacking inside Ukraine, very very brutally,” Kirby said. “It’s not just that they’re hitting oil and weapons depots and airfields, I mean they’re hitting residential areas, they’re killing civilians.”
– Ana Faguy
Russian forces launched an airstrike Sunday on the Black Sea port of Odesa, in southern Ukraine, sending up clouds of dark smoke that veiled parts of the city. The Russian military said the targets were an oil processing plant and fuel depots around Odesa, which is Ukraine’s largest port and home to its navy.
“I live in that eight-floor building. At 6 in the morning, Russia launched an attack, and this piece of rock reached my house,” said Maiesienko Ilia, who lives near one of the targeted facilities.
The Odesa city council said Ukraine’s air defense shot down some missiles before they hit the city. Ukrainian military spokesman Vladyslav Nazarov said there were no casualties from the attack.
The smaller port of Mariupol, located to the east on the Sea of Azov, remained cut off from the rest of the country as Russian and Ukrainian soldiers fought for control of the besieged city. About 100,000 civilians, less than a quarter of the prewar population of 430,000, are believed to be trapped there with little or no food, water, fuel and medicine.
– Associated Press
Russia’s top negotiator in talks with Ukraine says it’s too early to talk about a meeting between the countries’ leaders.
Vladimir Medinsky, who led the Russian delegation in Tuesday’s talks in Istanbul, said “there is still a lot of work to do” to finalize a draft agreement before Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could meet.
In remarks carried Sunday by the Interfax news agency, Medinsky reaffirmed that the parties reached a tentative agreement on the need for Ukraine to adopt a neutral status and refrain from holding foreign military bases in exchange for international security guarantees.
The Kremlin demands that Ukraine acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and recognize the independence of Russia-backed separatist regions in Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.
– Associated Press
Ukraine has regained control over some areas of the Kyiv region as Russian forces pulled back over the last few days. But leaders warn this does not signal that Russia is giving up; rather, forces could be refueling and shifting their strategy to the Donbas region and the south of Ukraine.
In his nightly video address Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said troops were not allowing the Russians to retreat without a fight: “They are shelling them. They are destroying everyone they can.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, said Saturday that the capital was “liberated” from invading Russian forces.
“Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel and the whole Kyiv region were liberated from the invader,” she said in a Facebook post.
The Biden administration intends to work with allies to provide Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine to help its defense in the eastern Donbas region, according to a report from The New York Times.
CNN confirmed the report, citing unnamed officials who said the T-72 tanks would be delivered within “days, not weeks.” 
The report, citing an unnamed U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity, says the move was requested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who held an hourlong phone call with President Joe Biden this week.
The U.S. would act as an intermediary, according to the Times. The official said the tanks would allow Ukraine forces to conduct long-range artillery strikes on Russian targets in Donbas, which borders Russia.
The White House declined to comment to USA TODAY.
– Joey Garrison
Contributing: The Associated Press


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