Estonia's president, PM call for action over 'horrific' Russian war crimes

Banners, flags and flowers tied to barriers outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn's Old Town.
Banners, flags and flowers tied to barriers outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn's Old Town. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Top Estonian officials on Sunday called for more action to be taken over Russia's 'horrific' treatment of civilians in Ukraine after hundreds of people were found dead in a town close to Kyiv.

On Saturday images from the destroyed town of Bucha, which Russian forces withdrew from on Friday, show pictures of dozens of dead civilians lying in the streets. The mayor said 280 people had been buried in mass graves.

Estonian politicians and officials made their thoughts clear on social media on Sunday and called for the international community to take action.

President of Estonia Alar Karis said: "We must do more to end the war crimes of the Russian army. The picture that emerges from the areas left behind by the Russian military is horrific, there are no words to describe this. Those who did this must be held responsible."

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said the photos recall mass killings carried out by Soviet soldiers.

"Photos of murdered civilians in Irpin and Bucha by Russian troops recall the mass killings by Soviet and Nazi regimes. This is not a battlefield, it's a crime scene. Mass killings of Ukrainian civilians by Russia are clear war crimes," she wrote on social media.

The prime minister also called for new rounds of sanctions against Russia.

"We need courage, moral clarity and more action to stop it. Indifference is the mother of all crimes. Evidence must be gathered, saved for trials, and perpetrators must face justice. We need a 5th round of strong EU sanctions as soon as possible."

She said sending military aid to Ukraine must be "our top priority": "They need it to take back their cities and free people from Russian occupation and repression."

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) called the images "devastating & appalling".

"Perpetrators of these war crimes must be held accountable!" she wrote.

Foreign ministry secretary general Jonatan Vseviov said: "It's clear - the civilized world can not afford to concede to the aggressor, not an inch, not for a second."

Chairman of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson wrote: "Horrific massacre in Bucha near Kyiv by Russian Army. The West should multiply its military support for Ukaine immediately. We have to stop this evil forever!"

Estonian diplomat Matti Maasikas, the EU's top diplomat to Ukraine said Ukraine needs to be helped to document the crimes and pursue legal cases.

"[I] Am afraid we'll find out many more war crimes," he wrote.

A Human Rights Watch report published on Sunday recorded instances of Russian soldiers executing, raping and torturing residents in occupied areas of northern Ukraine, actions categorized as war crimes.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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