The German government said on Wednesday that satellite images from last month provided strong evidence against Russian denials of its involvement in the civilian deaths in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.
Ukrainian authorities say hundreds of civilians have been found dead in areas vacated by Russian troops and images of bodies in the streets have sparked global outrage. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the killings as “war crimes” and “genocide.”
The Kremlin has denied the accusations of mass murder and claimed that the images coming out of Bucha and other towns are fake produced by Ukrainian forces, or that the deaths occurred after Russian soldiers withdrew.
Asked if the satellite images seen 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 assessment of intelligence matters.” .
He said the images available from Berlin covered the period from March 10 to 18 and “led to the conclusion that the victims whose images we all saw had been there since at least March 10.”
“Reliable evidence shows that Russian combat and security forces were deployed in this area from March 7 to March 30,” he said.
“They were involved in the interrogation of prisoners who were later executed. That’s the information we have.”
Hebestreit said that “the targeted killings by the Russian armed forces are evidence that the Russian President and Commander-in-Chief (Vladimir) Putin at least tacitly approved of human rights violations and war crimes.”
Speaking earlier in parliament, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also rejected 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 thoroughly document such atrocities and relentlessly get to the bottom of them,” he said.