The German government said on Wednesday that satellite pictures from last month provided strong counterevidence against Russian denials of involvement in civilian deaths in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told reporters that the “evaluation of satellite images” led Berlin to conclude that “Russian declarations” that images of civilian deaths “were posed scenes or that they were not responsible for the murders are in our view not tenable.”
Ukrainian officials say hundreds of civilians were found dead in areas vacated by Russian troops and images of bodies in streets sparked global outrage. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the killings as “war crimes” and “genocide.”
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The Kremlin has denied the accusations of mass killings and claimed the images emerging from Bucha and other towns are fakes produced by Ukrainian forces, or that the deaths occurred after Russian soldiers pulled out.
When asked if the satellite images viewed by German officials were from allies or media sources, Hebestreit replied: “These are our findings but as you know we do not comment on the origin or evaluation of intelligence matters.”
He said that images at Berlin’s disposal covered the period from March 10-18 and “led to the conclusion that the victims whose images we all saw were lying there since at least March 10.”
“Reliable evidence shows that Russian fighting and security forces were deployed in this area from March 7 until the 30th,” he said.
“They were involved in the interrogation of prisoners who were later executed. That is the information we have.”
Hebestreit said “targeted killings by Russian armed forces are evidence that the Russian president and commander in chief [Vladimir] Putin at the least tacitly approved of human rights violations and war crimes.”
Speaking earlier in parliament, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also pushed back against the Kremlin’s denial, calling it a “cynical claim” and “lies.”
“The perpetrators and their superiors must be brought to justice - we support all efforts to minutely document such atrocities and relentlessly get to the bottom of them,” he said.
Germany says satellite images show Russian denials on Bucha ‘not tenable’