Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the Russians will launch an operation to “hide their crimes” in the territories of Ukraine, which will be under Moscow’s control, after its troops left the bodies of hundreds of civilians in the suburbs of Kiev in recent days.
The Ukrainian president’s remarks came on Tuesday when the US Treasury announced new measures to make it more difficult for Russia to repay loans in dollars through American banks, bringing Moscow one step closer to a potential breach of its obligations to international investors.
Zelensky traveled with foreign journalists to the city of Bucha and other suburbs of Kiev on Monday as investigators began gathering evidence of what Ukrainian officials called “war crimes” before withdrawing Russian troops.
After world leaders condemned the apparent genocide and several EU countries expelled Russian diplomats in response, Zelensky said he hoped the occupying forces would “deal differently with their crimes” in the Ukrainian territories under their control in the east and south of the country. .
“They are already running an active campaign to cover up the crime of genocide of civilians in Mariupol,” Zelensky said in a video address. “They will do dozens of stage interviews, re-edit recordings, intentionally kill people as if someone else killed them.”
Zelensky added that he hoped the Russians would “clear the evidence of their crime.”
Russia has denied that any civilians were harmed during the occupation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the report of the killings was a “fake attack” when his department accused the Ukrainian government of being a “fraud” for the Western media.
Ukrainian soldiers and journalists who entered Bucha and other towns near Kiev captured by the Russians found the bodies of dead civilians lying on the streets and newly excavated graves. Russia has withdrawn most of its troops from the capital and northern Ukraine in recent days as it seeks to occupy territory east of the country.
“Russia’s enemy is reorganizing its forces and concentrating efforts to prepare for an offensive against our country,” said General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. “The goal is to establish full control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”
Following reports of the killings over the weekend, Western governments have called for tougher sanctions against Russia.
French President Emmanuel Macron has backed a ban on the sale of Russian coal and oil.
US President Joe Biden, in his first remarks since the alleged atrocities in Bucharest, called Russian leader Vladimir Putin “cruel” and said what happened in the city was “outrageous.” He also promised to tighten sanctions.
The US Treasury has said it will no longer allow dollar payments from Russian government accounts in US financial institutions. A US Treasury spokesman said: “Russia must either reserve the remaining valuable dollar reserves or choose between new revenues or defaults.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said he had spoken to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and called on him to use “measures to gather evidence and bring Russian war criminals to justice”.
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