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Ukraine news: Putin gives honorary title to brigade accused of war crimes

A brigade accused of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha has received an honorary title from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Troops from the 64th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade were named by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry as war criminals earlier this month after mass graves containing murdered civilians were discovered and corpses were discovered in the street after the withdrawal of Russian forces from the kyiv region.

In a letter signed on Monday, Putin praised the unit for its “great heroism and courage” and awarded the unit the title of “Guards” for “protecting Russia’s sovereignty”.

“Through shrewd and daring actions during the special military operation in Ukraine, the unit staff became a model in the performance of military duty, bravery, dedication and dedication. professionalism,” reads the president’s congratulatory statement.

The move will be seen as a public message to the Ukrainian government and the West, after many international leaders condemned alleged atrocities committed by Russian troops in the Ukrainian towns of Bucha and Borodyanka.

Earlier this month, stories of summary executions, beatings and indiscriminate shelling emerged following Russia’s hasty withdrawal from central Ukraine. CNN crews saw dozens of bodies buried or strewn on the ground in the devastated suburb of Bucha, after a brutal occupation that lasted more than a month.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Russia for the killings and called on Moscow to stop committing “war crimes”.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the massacres, while reiterating baseless claims that images of civilian bodies on the streets of Bucha are fake.

But during a visit to the towns of Bucha and Borodianka last week, International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC were being committed”.

Khan also warned it would be ‘difficult’ to ensure justice in Ukraine, given Russia’s decision to withdraw its signature from the ICC statute, which gives the court jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide. , crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Russia does not extradite its citizens to other countries.

Since the failed Russian attempt to seize kyiv, it has refocused its invasion of Ukraine with an assault on the eastern region of Donbass.