Close-up photos of Ukraine atrocities touch the global nerve

Tatiana Petrovna, 72, reacts on April 4, 2022, when she sees the bodies of three citizens in the garden of a house in Pucha, Ukraine. (Daniel Perehulak / The New York Times)

Inanimate bodies, bloodied by bullets and some hands tied, were scattered or pushed into temporary mass graves. Or the fact that you look closely at them in widely distributed photos and videos.

Other atrocities have taken place in the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, concentrating most of its firepower on the settlements and assemblies of ordinary Ukrainians, but the international outrage they provoked has faded in response to the revelations that many of the killed civilians left behind the retreat of Russian soldiers. Behind near the Ukrainian capital.

Some of the bodies found outside Kiev last weekend were lying face down, some curled up. Civilians appear to have been killed while walking on their bicycles, on the street or in the basements of houses. Three bodies were found in a garden in Pucha, where many of the dead were found.

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Many of the victims were shot in the head. A coroner in Pucha said his team had collected dozens. Some residents said the Russians shot anyone as their tanks rolled through the city in the early days of the war.

Russian officials have denied responsibility for the killings, but said satellite images taken during the Russian occupation of Pucha and other cities disproved their claims.

Analysis of satellite images by The New York Times showed dots in the exact coordinates where bodies were found in newly liberated areas by Ukrainian forces and journalists. This confirmed the accounts of witnesses who claimed to have been there for several weeks.

The brief killings of civilians, as described in the Geneva Conventions and the International Criminal Court’s definition of what a war crime is, are increasing the evidence of numerous blatant violations of Russian law by Russian forces.

There is a steep hill for lawyers to climb in war crimes cases. But international legal experts say tragic pictures of civilians shot dead in Pucha and other cities vacated by the Russians, along with witness accounts, could provide documents for the investigation.

Unlike other atrocities of the Ukraine war, such as the bombing of a maternity hospital, the demolition of a theater where people were staying, or the shelling of apartment buildings, the killings in Pucha were not accidentally damaged or easily denied by the Russians. Campaign.

“The difference here is that you have images of civilians being handcuffed and hanged – this is a completely different crime,” said Alex Whiting, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School who has worked on international war crimes cases. “It sounds like a crime.”

Rachel Denper, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch, which collects evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, said the killings were partly shocking because many civilians had died in the war. It is caused by indiscriminate shelling and bombardment – however it is a horrific act.

“One of the reasons people have a different reaction to these bodies on the ground is the suspicion that these victims were not blind, they were intentional,” he said.

When Russia launched its invasion on February 24, there were widespread expectations that its superior strength would soon subdue Ukraine. But when they met with fierce Ukrainian opposition, the Russians quickly sought large-scale bombing and missile strikes, leveling all or part of some cities and towns, with little or no difference between civilian and military targets.

In some ways, legal experts say, images of citizens shot at close range reveal personal evil deeds.

Andrew Klaub, an international law professor at the Geneva Graduate Institute, one of the advisers to the Ukrainian government, said: “On one level, one sees the destruction of a city, and one thinks that such things will happen in war.

But he said the deaths outside Kiev were aimed at killing civilians.

“It’s very obvious that there is no apology,” Club said.

Here is a geographical breakdown of some of the worst atrocities reported during the war in Ukraine:

Like Mariupol

The southeastern port, one of the first targets of the Russian invasion, was besieged for weeks without food, water or electricity, and by one time its population of 450,000 had shrunk by some estimates to 100,000 or less. Russia’s missile strike on March 9 severely damaged a maternity hospital. The March 16 Russian bombing destroyed the Mariupol Theater, where hundreds of civilians sought refuge and the word “children” was written in large letters outside to deter airstrikes. Ukrainian officials say 300 people inside have been killed. On March 21, Ukrainian authorities said the Russians had evacuated 4,500 Mariupol residents into Russian territory – a war crime if it was confirmed as a forced relocation.


The 1.5 million city in the country’s second-largest eastern Ukraine has come under Russian airstrikes from missiles, artillery and cluster munitions and widely banned weapons. According to residents and videos checked by the New York Times, the Kharkiv catastrophe includes primary schools and apartments. Ukrainian authorities estimate that at least 500 people have been killed recently. Human Rights Watch said in a report on possible war crimes in Ukraine on Sunday that it had documented a March 13 incident of rape by Russian troops in the Kharkiv region.


The northern city, near the border with Belarus, was a temporary refuge for many civilians trying to escape Russia’s initial drive to encircle Kiev. But after Ukrainian guards prevented the invaders from capturing the city, Russian forces also launched a series of airstrikes on Chernihiv. Witnesses in Chernihiv said Russian attacks destroyed schools, damaged hospitals and attacked civilians waiting in line for bread.


The 500,000 southern industrial city, which blocks the Russian military’s path to the Black Sea port of Odessa, has withstood numerous Russian advances and airstrikes. A sea destroyed military camps, killing dozens; The others were very blind. Missile strikes fell on residential apartment buildings. And last week, a missile struck a government building, killing at least 36 people. On weekends and Mondays, other deadly attacks were reported on vehicles and homes in and around the city.

Suburb of Kiev

The bodies of several civilians have been found in the northern suburbs of Kiev. In his nightly speech on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said that more than 300 people had been tortured to death in Pucha alone and that the list was likely to grow further. In its report on Sunday, Human Rights Watch said a Pucca man was executed by Russian soldiers on March 4 and killed a few days later by a mother and her 14-year-old daughter in another northern city, Vorzel.

Sexual violence by Russian occupiers has also been reported. Last month, Ukraine’s attorney general, Irina Venedikova, claimed that a Russian soldier had killed an unarmed citizen and then repeatedly raped his wife.

Laura A., a professor at George Washington University Law School who specializes in international law. Dickinson said that despite the Kremlin’s denials, photographs of bodies in the Kiev suburbs provided some of the most compelling signs of atrocities by the Russian side. .

“The evidence is very bad, I would say,” he said. “It’s hard to dismiss that as fake.”

© 2022 The New York Times Institute

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