U.S. Helping To Identify Russian Soldiers Involved In Bucha Massacre

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CNN Defense Department correspondent Barbara Starr says that the U.S. will be pursuing the identities of Russian military personnel involved in carrying out documented atrocities in Bucha, a jurisdiction near the Ukrainian capital. The U.S. believes “it will be able to identify the Russian units” responsible for what happened, Starr said. Images from the recently liberated area have shown apparent civilian corpses throughout Bucha — nearly two dozen were found lining a roadway, and some of those killed had their hands tied, while others were discovered amid routine scenes of everyday life, which showcases the indiscriminate nature of the violence. Torture was also reported, and overall, hundreds of civilians are believed to have died in the city. Ukrainian personnel recently reported the liberation of the administrative area around Kyiv, the capital.

Identifying the Russian soldiers behind the violence in Bucha is “an extremely high priority” for the U.S. intelligence community, Starr said, quoting a U.S. official. (Her preceding quote is also from a United States official.) The U.S. is “using all [available intelligence] means to help Ukraine identify who conducted atrocities” and “also analyzing possible indicators that more than one Russian unit or group of fighters was in Bucha during the time the atrocities occurred,” according to Starr’s summary of recent developments. A second U.S. official added: “I would just tell you, just looking at the imagery, when you see individuals with their hands tied behind their backs, and evidence of being shot in the head, that certainly appears to be premeditated, appears to be planned.” Before images emerged from Bucha, Secretary of State Antony Blinken already stated that the Biden administration believed Russian personnel to be responsible for war crimes in Ukraine. Throughout the war, civilians have been directly targeted by Russian attacks — although it’s not as though any credible source outside Russia believed Putin’s propaganda asserting otherwise.

Notably, Attorney General Merrick Garland publicly spoke this week of the Justice Department’s intention to participate in the push for justice in connection to what went on in Bucha and elsewhere. As the Attorney General remarked: “The world sees what is happening in Ukraine. The Justice Department sees what is happening in Ukraine. This Department has a long history of helping to hold accountable those who perpetrate war crimes. One of my predecessors — Attorney General Robert Jackson — later served as the chief American prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials. Today, we are assisting international efforts to identify and hold accountable those responsible for atrocities in Ukraine. And we will continue to do so.” The exits of Russian ground troops from around the Ukrainian capital do not mean that threats have ceased in newly liberated areas — or elsewhere, including locales in which ground assaults continue. Mobile crematoriums run by Russian personnel have begun to operate in the long-besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, where local officials recently stated they feared the true death toll could reach the tens of thousands.

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