Surrounded by body bags – Putin’s ‘war crimes’ only strengthen Ukraine’s resolve | world news


There was an awful near-silence as war crimes investigators went about their business and the bodies of the victims were methodically packed into body bags.

We counted at least 15 body bags loaded on top of each other in a succession of ambulances. The death toll is higher and includes several children, including a baby just a few months old.

The the attack was so quick and so deadlywhen we arrived at the scene, many victims were still where they had died.

An old man’s hand still clutched his steering wheel, frozen in time, his body slumped in the passenger seat.

Two young women lay on the ground outside their vehicle, their legs at grotesque angles and flies massing around open wounds on their faces.

Maybe they were talking to each other when the missiles hit. One group was all in their place in the van they were traveling in.

Someone had covered their body with a thin white sheet but we could still make out the front passenger, his mouth open, his head back because he had been killed.

The vehicles were packed with suitcases and medical kits which the group traveled only a few miles down the road to help relatives, the elderly and the sick inside. Russian-controlled territory.

According to Vladimir Putin, this whole area is now Russian after he signed a decree annexing not only Zaporizhzhia but also Kherson and the two regions of Donbass, Lugansk and Donetsk.

But in this clearing that was once the site of an auto parts market, Ukrainians harvesting the DNA of their compatriots were once again picking up a fight to keep their territory, but also a legal war that they are determined to fight. to win.

Zaporizhia

“These are definitely war crimes,” Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi told us after visiting the site.

“And Putin should pay for what he did.”

The aid convoy was a routine convoy. Up to 150 people would meet there daily in the early hours of the morning after obtaining permission from the Russian authorities to visit areas under Russian control.

They planned to take away elderly or sick relatives who wanted to flee as well as deliver provisions to those who did not want to leave their homes. They had no reason to suspect that they would be the target of attacks.

A witness, who only asked to be called Valeriy, said he could not understand the questions about who carried out the atrocity.

Zaporizhia
Image:
Many Ukrainians said that the peak of attacks to Russian losses on the battlefield

“I’m in shock at the rhetoric of journalists from Germany, from France, asking who did this,” he told us.

“I’m talking with Russian soldiers right there (he points in the direction of Russian controlled areas) and even the Russian soldiers don’t think who did this…they know the Russian military bombed this.”

We spot Olga Linik on her phone.

She is visibly anxious and tells us that she is trying to find her parents. His mother and father are both doctors and were part of the convoy.

Zaporizhia
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A crater left after the attack

“I tried to persuade them to stay with me in Dnipro but they insisted that they wanted to go and help people in Russian regions,” she explains.

“My dad called me and I don’t know what happened but he said he tried to save my mum for an hour but I don’t know what happened.”

She pauses to receive a call. It’s her father who comes out of the convoy among all the broken vehicles and wraps his arms around her, sobbing.

His mother did not survive.

The two return to the bomb site where Olga and her father say goodbye, arms around each other, their mother’s black body bag at their feet.

At the time of writing, according to the Ukrainian police 30 people in the convoy died, including children, and 88 others were injured, including a number seriously injured, in a series of attacks on Zaporizhzhia throughout the day.

Zaporizhia

Many Ukrainians we spoke to attributed the spike in attacks to Russian casualties on the battlefield.

But the attack on the civilian convoy also came hours before the Russian president publicly declared his country’s annexation of the four Ukrainian regions.

But the devastating civilian attacks appear to have only hardened the resolve of Ukrainians and their leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy having slapped his candidacy for Ukraine to join NATO.

It’s a threat that would have prompted his Russian counterpart to mount his “special operation” in the first place. The situation on the ground in Ukraine is expected to worsen.

Also by cameraman Jake Britton and producers Chris Cunningham and Artem Lysak at Zaporizhzhia.

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