Ukrainian police reported on Saturday finding three bodies shot in the head with their hands tied near the town of Bucha, which has become synonymous with Russian war crimes allegations.
The three bodies found in a pit were “brutally killed” by Russian soldiers – each with a bullet to the head, police said in a statement.
“The hands of the victims were tied, clothes covered their eyes and some were gagged. There are traces of torture on the corpses,” he said.
Russian forces also continued their relentless shelling of the east of the country on Saturday, killing at least one person and injuring 12 others.
Meanwhile, in Odessa, regional governor Maxim Marchenko said a Russian missile destroyed the airport runway – as Russia targeted infrastructure and supply lines deep in the west of the country .
There were no casualties from the airport strike.
On the eastern front line, Russian troops have advanced slightly in some areas, but Ukrainian forces have also retaken territory in recent days, notably around the city of Kharkiv.
One of the areas regained from Russian control was the village of Ruska Lozova which the evacuees said had been occupied for two months.
“It was two months of terrible fear. Nothing else, terrible and unrelenting fear,” Natalia, a 28-year-old evacuee from Ruska Lozova, told AFP after reaching Kharkiv.
“We were in the basement without food for two months, we ate what we had,” said Sviatoslav, 40, who declined to give his full name, his eyes red with fatigue.
Thousands of people have been killed and millions forced to flee their homes since Russia’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbor began on February 24.
On Friday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby briefly choked with emotion as he described the destruction in Ukraine and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “depravity”.
Ukrainian prosecutors say they have identified more than 8,000 war crimes committed by Russian troops and are investigating 10 Russian soldiers for alleged atrocities in Bucha.
Russia earlier confirmed it carried out an airstrike on Kyiv in which a journalist was killed during a visit by UN chief Antonio Guterres the day before, the first such attack on the capital Ukrainian in nearly two weeks.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it deployed “high-precision, long-range aerial weapons” that “destroyed the production buildings of the Artyom space and missile company in Kyiv.”
Russia is now stepping up its operations in the eastern Donbass region, making territorial advances and tightening its grip on the devastated port city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian authorities have said they hope for an early evacuation of the besieged steel plant in Azovstal, Mariupol’s last stronghold where hundreds of people have taken refuge with Ukrainian troops.
But Denis Pushilin, head of the breakaway eastern region of Donetsk, accused Ukrainian forces of “acting like outright terrorists” and holding civilians hostage at the steelworks.
From the heavily damaged port area of Mariupol, AFP heard heavy shelling from Azovstal on Friday during a media trip organized by the Russian military, with explosions within seconds of each other.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk reported that 14 Ukrainians, including a pregnant soldier, had been freed in the latest prisoner swap with Russian forces.
She did not specify how many Russians had been expelled.
“Not very fast”
kyiv admitted that Russian forces had captured a series of villages in the Donbass region.
“Although there has been some advance of Russian troops on the ground, it’s not very fast,” Russian military expert Alexander Khramchikhin told AFP.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “the special military operation…is proceeding strictly according to plan”, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
More Western weaponry is expected to arrive in Ukraine, with US President Joe Biden seeking billions of dollars from Congress on Thursday to boost supplies.
Following a conversation with Zelensky, President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that France would also “step up” its military and humanitarian support.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in recent days that its forces struck Ukrainian military sites housing weapons and ammunition supplied by the West, a claim denied by a senior NATO official.
Russia has warned Western countries against sending more military aid.
“If the United States and NATO are really interested in resolving the Ukrainian crisis, then first of all they should wake up and stop supplying the kyiv regime with arms and ammunition,” Lavrov said.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)