Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : We will never forget the cruelties the people of Bucha have been forced to endure – UK statement to the OSCE [March 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 30 March 2023.

Deputy Ambassador Brown says the UK is fully committed to holding Russia to account for its illegal and barbaric actions in Ukraine, including in Bucha.

Thank you, Mr Chair. Russian forces took full control of Bucha by 5 March 2022, and remained there until 30 March. That is one year ago, today. Since then, Bucha has become synonymous with the some of the most despicable horrors unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. My statement today will set out just some of the cruelties the people of Bucha were forced to endure.

When Ukrainian forces liberated Bucha, and foreign journalists arrived shortly after, they saw dozens of dead bodies. First on the streets. Then in gardens, apartments, basements, vehicles, forested areas and improvised individual and collective graves. Many bore signs of summary execution. According to the OHCHR, some civilians were “killed on the spot” and others were detained before being executed – sometimes “several weeks later”. Over time, more and more bodies have been recovered in Bucha. As of 13 September 2022, Kyiv’s regional police force put the total death toll at 422.

Mr Chair, innocent civilians are at the heart of this suffering. People like 69 year old Valeriy, who was killed in his own garden. People like 14 year old Yurii, who was shot in the arm by the same Russian soldier who killed Yurii’s father at a Russian checkpoint. And people like 52 year old Iryna who was found dead, on the side of the road – like so many others. Photos of Iryna’s muddy upturned hand, and her bright red fingernails, became a potent symbol of the human suffering in Bucha.

Two Moscow Mechanism reports have documented clear patterns of serious violations of international humanitarian law, “attributable mostly to the Russian forces”. This includes in Bucha, where experts noted reports of bodies found with their hands tied behind their backs, including in the basement of a children’s health centre; a mass grave containing more than 70 bodies; bodies bearing obvious signs of torture and mutilation; and of torture chambers discovered in a summer camp. In one village in the Bucha district, 18 mutilated bodies of men, women and children were reportedly discovered, some with their ears cut off, others with their teeth pulled out.

The growing body of evidence shows that Russian authorities have committed a wide range of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. In Bucha, Irpin, Izyum, Kherson and more. Too many more. The atrocities committed in these locations will forever be a moral stain upon the Russian armed forces. And a moral stain on the Russian diplomats who continue to peddle the Kremlin’s lies to obscure and distract from these crimes. Lies which will never work.

The UK is fully committed to holding Russia to account for its illegal and barbaric actions in Ukraine. These should be independently investigated. Alongside supporting the International Criminal Court, the UK, United States and European Union have established the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group in support of Ukraine’s domestic war crimes prosecutions. Those responsible will face justice.

Mr Chair, when President Zelenskyy was asked recently about his worst memory of Russia’s invasion, he answered “Bucha”. We will never forget those who have been killed in Putin’s barbaric, senseless invasion – including those in Bucha. We will never abandon those who remain. We will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes. Ukrainians have shown tremendous courage and resilience in the face of such wanton destruction and evil. Ukraine will prevail, rebuild and flourish.