(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday said that images and footage of dead bodies strewn across the Ukrainian town of Bucha were fake.
Speaking at a televised news conference after talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, Putin compared Ukrainian allegations that Russian servicemen executed civilians in Bucha to what he said was the staging by the West of a chemical weapons attack in Syria aimed at incriminating Bashar al-Assad.
“It’s the same kind of fake in Bucha,” Putin said. Ukraine has accused the Russian military of executing residents of Bucha, a town outside the capital Kyiv that Russian troops had occupied for several weeks before withdrawing. Western countries have called for those responsible for the murder of civilians to be punished.
Russian authorities have accused Ukraine of staging the harrowing scene to derail peace talks and prompt the West to impose more sanctions against Moscow. Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions in an effort to force Russia to withdraw its forces.