June 19, 2024

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Albania, Kosovo accuse Russia of war crimes

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By The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — A top official in the global campaign against the use of land mines is urging Russia to halt the use in Ukraine of these weapons that too often kill and maim civilians.

Alicia Arango Olmos, Colombia’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and this year’s president of the state parties to the 1997 convention banning the production and use of land mines, expressed deep concern at media reports that Russia is using land mines in its war in Ukraine.

She pointed to Human Rights Watch which said on March 29 that Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal technician located banned ant-personnel mines in the eastern Kharkiv region a day earlier.

The rights group said Russia is known to possess the type of mines that were discovered, but Ukraine doesn’t have them.

Arango Olmos told a news conference Monday that Ukraine is one of the 164 state parties to the convention, but Russia is not.

Monday was the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Russia faces growing outrage amid new evidence of atrocities

— Ukraine accuses Russia of massacre, city strewn with bodies

— World reacts with horror at images of slain civilians in Ukraine towns

— Drug shortages persist in Russia after start of Ukraine war

— Ukrainian refugees find jobs, kindness as they settle in

— Russian, Ukrainian ballet stars to dance together in Naples

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said he spoke Monday with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres about events in Bucha in what appear to be deliberate killings in the town on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv.

“No place for Russia on the UN Human Rights Council,” Kuleba said on Twitter. “Ukraine will use all available UN mechanisms to collect evidence and hold Russian war criminals to account.”

Videos and photos of streets in Bucha strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians, some with their hands tied behind their back, have led to global revulsion, calls for tougher sanctions, and Russia’s suspension from the U.N.’s premiere human rights body, the Human Rights Council.

According to Ukraine’s prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova, the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces.

Associated Press journalists have reported seeing dozens of the bodies in various spots around Bucha, northwest of the capital.

PARIS — The French foreign ministry announced Monday that France has decided to expel “numerous” Russian diplomats, saying their “activities were contrary to our security interests.”

The announcement came hours after Germany said it was expelling 40 diplomat and Lithuania said it expelled the Russian ambassador and will recall its envoy in Moscow. No number was immediately given for how many are being expelled by France.

German news agency dpa quoted German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser as saying that the diplomats being expelled are those “whom we attribute to the Russian intelligence services.”

Faeser says that “we won’t allow this criminal war of aggression to also be conducted as an information war in Germany.”

UNITED NATIONS — Britain’s U.N. ambassador says a previously planned U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday is certain to focus “front and center” on the killing of large numbers of civilians in Ukraine.

Some of the dead were found with their hands tied behind their backs after Russian troops left the Ukrainian town of Bucha on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv.

The United Kingdom holds the council presidency in April, and Ambassador Barbara Woodward said Britain didn’t grant Russia’s request for a meeting on the situation in Bucha on Monday because “we didn’t see a good reason to have two meetings back to back on Ukraine.”

She told reporters that the Security Council will be briefed Tuesday by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo.

Woodward said that “the images that we saw coming out of Bucha over the weekend were harrowing, appalling, probable evidence of war crimes and possibly a genocide.”

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MOSCOW — Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says the country feels no impact from the expulsion of its diplomats by various European countries, and indicates Russia will respond in kind.

Medvedev was Russia’s president from 2008 through 2012 and is now deputy chairman of the security council under President Vladimir Putin. Writing on the messaging app Telegram, Medvedev says that “everyone knows the response: it will be symmetrical and destructive for bilateral relations.”

His comments came after Germany expelled 40 Russian diplomats Monday and Lithuania expelled the Russian ambassador and said it would recall its envoy in Moscow. France on Monday also announced it will expel “numerous” Russian diplomats.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says more than 1,550 civilians were evacuated on Monday from the besieged port of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine.

Vereshchuk said a total of 2,405 people were evacuated along a humanitarian corridor route running from Mariupol to the Ukraine-held city of Zaporizhzhia, with 1,553 of those coming from Mariupol itself and the rest from other locations in the heavily contested area.

She said the people used the dwindling number of private vehicles left in the area to get out of Mariupol and that a convoy of seven buses sent to help remained unable to enter the city to collect people.

Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, is a key Russian military objective that has faced horrific bombardment.

Vereshchuk added that 971 other people were evacuated from five locations in the eastern Luhansk region, where Russia is now focusing much of its military efforts. She accused Russia of “systematically breaching” a local cease-fire planned to facilitate evacuations there.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova told Ukrainian TV today that a “similar humanitarian situation” to Bucha exists in other parts of the country where Russian forces recently left, such as the areas around the northern cities of Sumy and Chernihiv.

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