Germany Picks Up Russian Talk About Killing Ukrainian Civilians

Intelligence service briefs lawmakers on satellite images, intercepted radio traffic
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2022 5:11 PM CDT
Germany Picks Up Russian Talk About Killing Ukrainian Civilians
Municipal workers remove the body of a man from a house in Bucha, Ukraine, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

More evidence has surfaced that despite Russia's denials, its forces have committed atrocities in Ukraine. Germany's foreign intelligence service has briefed members of its parliament, Der Spiegel reports, about satellite images it has showing Russian involvement, as well as radio chatter it intercepted about civilian deaths. Ukrainian officials have reported finding the bodies of civilians—many apparently executed, some of them with evidence of torture—left in the streets of towns as Russian troops withdrew; Russia has denied responsibility and called the Ukrainian reports a hoax.

One of the intercepted Russian conversations includes a man saying, "First you interrogate soldiers, then you shoot them." Another seems to have one soldier telling another that Russia troops just shot someone on a bicycle, which would support a widely seen photo of a dead body next to a bike. The conversations took place north of Kyiv, an area that includes Bucha, though the transmissions haven't been definitively linked to the town. The satellite images do demonstrate Russian culpability in the civilian killings in Bucha, a German intelligence official told the Washington Post.

Western officials said Russian troops use unsecured communication devices, including smartphones and push-to-talk radios. The main question raised by the intercepted chatter is whether Russian soldiers were "acting pursuant to some plan or some general direction," said Alex Whiting, who has coordinated investigations at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. "Just the fact that they would be talking to each other about these killings would indicate that and would disprove any suggestion that these were kind of spontaneous, random events," he said. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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