U.S. wants more sanctions, Russia denies role in Bucha massacre
A woman cries as residents await the arrival of a convoy of aid vehicles in the formerly Russian-occupied Kiev suburb of Bucha, Ukraine, April 2, 2022. | Vadim Ghirda / AP

Russia said Monday that the U.K. and other Western countries were to blame for lobbying against holding an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to take up alleged war crimes committed in the Kiev suburb of Bucha.

Russia had demanded an emergency meeting of that body to be held Monday because it says it can prove that Western claims of Russian war crimes in Bucha are false.

There are press reports in Europe and the U.S. that Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, repeated her country’s demand for an emergency meeting on Monday after the request was refused Sunday.

WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: Satellite images of Bucha from earlier in the month of March, when Russian forces occupied the town, were compared to recent videos by the New York Times. In this comparison shot, a dead body is seen near abandoned cars on Yablonska Street in Bucha on Apr. 2 after Russian forces withdrew. The body had been on the street since at least Mar. 21, the Times says. | Credit: Kievskiy Dvizh via Instagram / Maxar Technologies / via NYT

The West said it wanted to wait because it needed time to examine incoming reports of the existence of mass graves in the wake of Russia’s withdrawal of its troops from Bucha.

In any case, the U.N. Security Council is set to meet on the matter Tuesday.

“Russia today will again demand the convening of the U.N. Security Council in connection with the criminal provocations of the Ukrainian military and radicals in this city,” Zakharova said shortly before the U.N. announced the Tuesday session.

Video appears to show dead bodies in civilian clothing strewn in the streets of the city of Bucha, a suburb of Kiev.

Bucha’s mayor, Anatoly Fedoruk, said that as many as 280 people found in a mass grave had been shot in the back of the head.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russians would be “forever synonymous” with the atrocities committed in Bucha, calling for war crimes charges to be brought against his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

President Joe Biden joined Zelensky in his call for Putin to be tried as a war criminal.

“Your culture and human appearance perished together with the Ukrainian men and women,” Zelensky said of the Russians while he was visiting the town.

Zelensky also blasted the West, especially the United States, Germany, and France, for what he called their policy of “appeasement” of Russia, saying they should have permitted Ukraine to join NATO when it had the chance 14 years ago.

His statement contradicted what he said about joining NATO only a day earlier when he declared that Ukraine was willing to give up that aspiration in order to make the peace negotiations with Russia more productive. Those talks are seen now as being more endangered than at any time since they began shortly after the launch of the war on Feb. 24.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on the International Criminal Court and other international organizations to come to the region “to collect evidence of Russian war crimes.”

The new German Defense Minister, Christine Lambrecht, said Europe should ban all gas imports from Russia. Lambrecht, as well as the new Social Democratic German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, have become far more hawkish and willing to confront Russia than was the conservative Christian Democratic government under former Chancellor Angela Merkel.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation into the alleged war crimes.

The New York Times Monday said that its analysis of satellite feeds shows that at least 11 of the bodies on the street in Bucha had been there since March 11, when the Russians, by their own admission, were occupying the city. Russia had claimed that bodies could well have been placed there by Ukrainians after Russian forces pulled out of the city.

Despite the evidence offered by the Times, Russia continued to deny its forces were involved in any atrocities in Bucha and said that rather than commit atrocities, it had delivered over 450 tons of humanitarian aid to the city’s residents.

In addition to claiming some bodies had been placed in the streets after its troops had exited the town, Russia said civilians in Bucha had been killed by Ukrainians carrying out “reprisal attacks” against civilians deemed to be pro-Russian. The Russians said these killings occurred both during the Russian occupation and in so-called “clear-up operations” after Russian troops pulled out last week.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov denied all the accusations of atrocities leveled against Russia.

“This information must be seriously questioned,” he declared Monday. In addition to reprisals from Ukrainians, he suggested that falsification of video evidence was also involved. “From what we have seen, our experts have identified signs of video falsification and other fakes,” he told reporters in Moscow.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the massacre in Bucha “has been staged by the Kiev regime for Western media, as was the case with the [fake news from the] Mariupol maternity clinic.” It called the Bucha atrocity stories “another hoax.”

Under the radar, meanwhile, as the charges and countercharges fly over the alleged massacre in Bucha, the dangers of a nuclear massacre to end all massacres are quietly being ratcheted up in backrooms in Washington with the cooperation now of the right-wing government in Poland.

When Biden met last week with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, the Polish leadership essentially gave him carte blanche to base nuclear weapons on the country’s territory.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice Party and the real ruler of Poland, argued to Biden that such a move would be the ideal way to “deter” Russia. (To the forces of sanity, placing nuclear weapons where they can be grabbed by right-wing fanatics in Poland may be the only thing worse than having them controlled by the war hawks in the Pentagon.)

Poland’s right-wing leaders told Biden that Russia would never attack a country if it knew that country had nuclear arms, especially one right on its border. Along with some in the Pentagon, the Poles argue it was the huge U.S. stockpiles of nuclear weapons that allegedly prevented the Soviet Union, in the Cold War, from using its own nuclear weapons. The argument the Poles made is that this was the way the Cold War was kept from becoming a hot war.

President Joe Biden and Polish President Andrzej Duda smile during a meeting in Warsaw. Reportedly, Poland’s leadership informed Biden of its willingness to allow the placement of U.S. nuclear weapons on Polish territory. | Czarek Sokolowski / AP

Tell that to all the people who burned up in the hot wars that the U.S. ran during the allegedly “Cold” War in its drive to destroy the Soviet Union during those years. Hot wars during the Cold War resulted in millions of deaths by many counts, in so-called “proxy” wars all over the world and, as was the case in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Berlin, Vietnam, Korea, and all the other times the world came too close for comfort to actual nuclear conflict.

The argument that placing nuclear arms in Poland will stop Russia holds no water because the idea of stacking up weapons, including ones that can carry nuclear warheads, on Russia’s borders has been going on for decades now and has resulted not in peace but in the war we have today. If anything, threats of nuclear weapons on its borders encouraged Russia to go to war.

Even if it is granted that Russia’s government is as corrupt and beholden to powerful capitalist interests as is the U.S. government, it should be clear that there are some reasonable fears it has about nuclear weapons on its borders.

While that in no way excuses the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it clearly explains why the placement of nuclear arms in Poland would not serve as a deterrence but rather would raise the danger of nuclear conflict in Europe and worldwide.

The idea of an American president discussing nuclear missile placement with a far-right government in Poland, after the U.S. trashed the two most important nuclear disarmament treaties ever agreed to, is a scary thought indeed.

Planning by a U.S. president for the placement of more nukes in Europe while he is allegedly leading a worldwide fight for democracy in Ukraine should be more than enough proof that something is rotten, not in Denmark, but in Washington, D.C.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.