United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described war as "evil" and absurd during a visit to Borodyanka. The town, located near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, was devastated during the Russian occupation.
"I imagine my family in one of those houses that is now destroyed and black. I see my granddaughters running away in panic. The war is an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil. There is no way a war can be acceptable in the 21st century," Guterres said.
During a following visit to the town of Bucha, Guterres also urged Russia to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on investigations into possible war crimes carried out during its invasion of Ukraine.
"I fully support the ICC and I appeal to the Russian Federation to accept, to cooperate with the ICC. But when we talk about war crimes, we cannot forget that the worst of crimes is war itself," he said during a visit to Bucha outside Kyiv, where hundreds of dead civilians were discovered after Russian troops pulled out.
In Bucha at the site of the mass grave behind a church, Guterres was told about the killing of civilians.
The UN secretary-general said: “Here, you feel how important it is for a thorough investigation and accountability.
"I fully support the international criminal court and appeal to the Russian federation to accept to cooperate with the ICC (the International Criminal Court). But when we talk of war crimes we cannot forget that the worst of crimes is war itself."
While the reports of Russian atrocities in the Kyiv satellite towns of Bucha and Irpin have drawn widespread condemnations, Ukrainian President Zelensky has said the situation in Borodianka was “much more disastrous” than in Bucha.
Following his visit to Bucha, Guterres is set to hold talks with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy later on Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Guterres met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where the two were said to have discussed the possible evacuation of the besieged Azovstal steel complex in the city of Mariupol.
The Bucha massacre was the killing and abuse of Ukrainian civilians by Russian Armed Forces during the fight for and occupation of the Ukrainian city of Bucha amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photographic and video evidence of the massacre emerged on 1 April 2022 after Russian forces withdrew from the city.
According to the mayor, 412 bodies have been found in the aftermath of the incident. Photo evidence showed corpses of civilians, lined up with their hands bound behind their backs, shot at point-blank range, which ostensibly gave proof that summary executions had taken place.
An inquiry by Radio Free Europe confirmed the use of a basement beneath a campground as a torture chamber. Many bodies were found mutilated and burnt, and girls as young as fourteen reported being raped by Russian soldiers.
Ukraine has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate what happened in Bucha as part of its ongoing investigation of the invasion in order to determine whether a series of Russian war crimes or crimes against humanity were committed.
Russian authorities have denied responsibility and instead claimed that Ukraine faked footage of the event or staged the killings itself as a false flag operation, and have described footage and photographs of dead bodies as fake news from the West and a provocation or staged performance by Ukrainian authorities.
These assertions have been characterized as false by several groups and media organizations. Eye-witness accounts from residents blame the Russian Armed Forces for the killings.