New Delhi: Russian President Vladimir Putin has given an honourary title to the brigade accused by Ukraine of committing war crimes in the town of Bucha.
Putin signed a decree Monday that gave the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade the title of “Guards” for defending the “fatherland and national interests”.
In the signed letter, Putin said: “This high distinction recognises your special merits, great heroism and courage in defending your fatherland, and in protecting Russia’s sovereignty and national interests.”
He went on: “Through astute and bold actions during the special military operation in Ukraine, the unit’s staff became a role model in fulfilling its military duty, valour, dedication and professionalism.”
Horrific photos that surfaced earlier this month showed murdered civilians lying in mass graves as the Russians withdrew from this region close to capital Kyiv. Bodies were stuffed in black bags, with limbs protruding out of some. Only a few of the dead were properly interred.
The Bucha mayor estimated the death toll to be nearly 300. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy immediately called on Russia to stop such “war crimes”.
On 4 April, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence named all the men of the 64th Brigade as “war criminals” They published names, ranks and passport details and said these men would face justice.
Russia, however, rejected that its soldiers could have carried out the massacre in the broader Kyiv region and accused Ukraine of circulating fake images of corpses.
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