Estonian president: Izyum mass grave further proof of war crimes

Ukrainian flag with Estonian flag in the background.
Ukrainian flag with Estonian flag in the background. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

A mass grave containing 400 bodies found in Ukraine, in territory recently occupied by Russia, is "proof of war crimes" and those responsible must be brought to justice, Estonia's top politicians said on Friday.

"Yesterday, another appalling piece of news reached us about the crimes of Russians in Ukraine – a mass burial site was discovered in Izyum in the Kharkiv region, which was liberated from the Russians," said Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) in a statement.

"Russia has broken all the principles and agreements of international law and is responsible for reparations. We have a moral duty to hold war criminals to account. The credibility of the rules-based order depends on it."

Reinsalu said the city has a population of 45,000, approximately the size of Estonia's summer capital, Pärnu.

He called for more sanctions to be applied to make the "cost of the aggression as severe as possible for Russia".

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) urged people to not turn away from the images.

"This is the face of Russian occupation: towns and cities turned into mass graves," she wrote on social media on Friday.

"Ukraine has used our military aid with skill and determination. Ukraine can win if we keep supporting them."

President Alar Karis said the mass grave was further proof of war crimes.

"Brutality and endless human suffering, impossible to put in words the horror Russian soldiers leave behind in Ukraine️," he said.

"Our duty is to ensure accountability, we´ll not rest before those responsible will be brought to justice."

Izyum, in Kharkiv region, was liberated from Russian occupation earlier this week during Kyiv's counter-offensive in Eastern Ukraine.

On Thursday evening, the Ukrainian government said a mass grave containing several hundred bodies had been found.

The bodies were mostly victims of shelling and air strikes in the original onslaught by Russia when the town was bombed into submission in the early stages of the war, an official told The Times newspaper.

The head of Ukraine's national police service said most of the bodies belonged to civilians, the BBC reported on Friday.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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