Pope Francis condemns "massacre of Bucha" and kisses Ukrainian flag
Pope Francis condemned "the massacre of Bucha" Wednesday and kissed a war-stained Ukrainian flag found in the city after it was recently liberated from Russian forces, according to Reuters.
Why it matters: Multiple countries have denounced Russia after evidence surfaced of atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha in the wake of Russia's military withdrawal from northern Ukraine.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier this week that more than 300 people had been tortured and killed in Bucha while Russian forces controlled the town.
What they're saying: "Recent news from the war in Ukraine, instead of bringing relief and hope, brought new atrocities, such as the massacre of Bucha," Pope Francis told an audience at the Vatican on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
- "Stop this war! Let the weapons fall silent! Stop sowing death and destruction," he added.
- He specifically addressed a group of Ukrainian war refugees in the audience, saying: "These children had to flee in order to arrive in a safe land. This is the fruit of war. Let's not forget them and let's not forget the Ukrainian people."
The big picture: Russia's Defense Ministry claimed that no civilians were injured or killed while its soldiers controlled the town.
- Satellite images of Bucha refute Russia's denials, showing several bodies of dead civilians lying in streets weeks before Ukrainian forces reclaimed control, the New York Times reported.
- Several European Union countries have recently dismissed dozens of Russian diplomats from their countries, while the bloc has pledged to increase sanctions on the Kremlin in response to civilian killings in Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine.