Russia invades Ukraine: More than 900 civilian bodies found around Kyiv, says official

Russia invades Ukraine: More than 900 civilian bodies found around Kyiv, says official
A Kyiv police official said more than 900 civilian bodies have been found around Ukraine's capital following Russia's withdrawal from the region.
15 min read

The bodies of more than 900 civilians have been discovered in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following Russia's withdrawal — most of them fatally shot, police said Friday, an indication that many people were "simply executed.”

The jarring number emerged shortly after Russia’s Defense Ministry promised to step up missile attacks on Kyiv in response to Ukraine’s alleged aggression on Russian territory. That ominous warning followed the stunning loss of Moscow's flagship in the Black Sea, which a senior US defence official said Friday was indeed hit by at least one Ukrainian missile.

Amid its threats, Moscow continues preparations for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine. Fighting also continues in the pummeled southern port city of Mariupol, where locals reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies.

Around Kyiv, Andriy Nebitov, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force, said bodies were abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials. He cited police data indicating 95% died from gunshot wounds.

“Consequently, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets,” Nebitov said.

More bodies are being found every day, under rubble and in mass graves, he added. The largest number of victims were found in Bucha, where there were more than 350, he said.

Earlier on Friday, UN figures showed that more than five million people have escaped Ukraine since the Russian invasion, making it Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 4,796,245 million Ukrainians had left the country since 24 February.

The UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) says nearly 215,000 third-country nationals have also escaped to neighbouring countries.

Friday's figures from the UNHCR were up 59,774 on those issued Thursday.

More than 2.7 million Ukrainian refugees- nearly six in 10 who have left since the war began- have fled to Poland. More than 725,000 reached Romania.

UNHCR figures show nearly 645,000 Ukrainians fled in February, with nearly 3.4 million doing so in March and more than 760,000 leaving so far this month.

Women and children account for 90 percent of those who escaped, with men aged 18 to 60 eligible for military call-up and unable to leave.

Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes, including those still inside the country.

The nearly 215,000 third-country nationals who have fled- people who are citizens of neither Ukraine nor the country they entered- are largely students and migrant workers.

Beyond the refugees, the IOM estimates 7.1 million people have left their homes but are still in Ukraine.

Before the invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in the regions under government control, excluding Russia-annexed Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist-controlled regions in the east.

Here is a breakdown of how many Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, according to UNHCR:


Nearly six out of 10 Ukrainian refugees- 2,720,622 so far- have crossed into Poland, according to the UN.

Many people who go to Ukraine's immediate western neighbours travel on to other states in Europe's Schengen open-borders zone.

The World Health Organization said Poland had made 7,000 hospital beds available for the sick and wounded from Ukraine, of which 20 percent were currently in use.

Some 652,000 people have crossed from Poland into Ukraine since the war began.

Before the crisis, Poland was already home to around 1.5 million Ukrainians, chiefly migrant workers.


A total of 726,857 Ukrainians entered the EU member state, including a large number who crossed over from Moldova, wedged between Romania and Ukraine.

The vast majority are thought to have gone on to other countries.


A total of 447,053 Ukrainians have entered Hungary.


The Moldovan border is the closest to the major port city of Odessa. A total of 419,499 Ukrainians have crossed into the non-EU state, one of the poorest in Europe.

Most of those who have entered the former Soviet republic of 2.6 million people have moved on but an estimated 100,000 remain, including 50,000 children- of whom only 1,800 are enrolled in schools.

"Refugee children from Ukraine have fled a brutal war and have arrived dispossessed and traumatised in Moldova. They are very vulnerable and need immediate support," said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

"Public schools are open to refugee children; however, the capacity is over-stretched and there is a need for urgent mental health and psycho-social services, sanitation, and teachers".

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A total of 329,597 people crossed Ukraine's shortest border into Slovakia.


Another 22,827 refugees have made it north to Russia's close ally Belarus.

The New Arab is providing live updates of what's been happening on the ground and additional analysis on the conflict's significance. 

Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for more.

12:08 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia warns US to stop arming Ukraine

Russia has warned the United States that there will be "unpredictable consequences" if Washington keeps arming Ukraine, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

In Moscow, a foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed Russia had sent diplomatic notes to the United States and other nations about supplying weapons to Ukraine but did not say what the messages contained, Interfax news agency reported.

"We call on the United States and its allies to stop the irresponsible militarization of Ukraine, which implies unpredictable consequences for regional and international security," the Post quoted Russia saying in a note to the United States.

8:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russian journalists, political scientist declared 'foreign agents'

Russian authorities on Friday declared prominent Kremlin critics including documentary filmmaker Yuri Dud and political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann "foreign agents" as Moscow steps up a crackdown on dissent.

The Russian justice ministry said in a statement that it had added to its growing list of "foreign agents" nine individuals including 35-year-old Dud, Schulmann, 43, and caricaturist Sergei Yelkin, 59.

Also on the list are now prominent journalists Roman Dobrokhotov, 38, and Karen Shainyan, 40.

Dobrokhotov is the founder of investigative news website The Insider, while Shainyan is an openly gay editor, producer and gay rights activist.

Schulmann, one of Russia's most quoted political analysts, recently left the country to conduct scientific work in Germany. She told AFP she had long expected to be designated a "foreign agent".

7:02 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Zelensky echoes concern Russia may use nuclear arms

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that Russia could use nuclear weapons out of desperation as its invasion falters, echoing comments by CIA director William Burns.

Asked about the threat, Zelensky said "all of the world" should be worried that Russia "began to speak about... nuclear weapons or some chemical weapons."

"They could do it, I mean they can," he told CNN. "For them, life of the people is nothing... let's not be afraid - be ready."

Burns said Thursday that Russia's battlefield setbacks raised the risk that President Vladimir Putin could deploy a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon.

5:50 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Most Bucha victims shot dead: Ukraine police chief

A majority of people killed in Bucha, a town outside the Ukrainian capital reclaimed recently from Russian forces, died from gunshot wounds, the region's police chief said Friday.

"Ninety-five percent of people were shot by snipers or with small arms," Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebitov, was quoted as saying by the Interfax Ukraine news agency at a news conference.

"People were simply shot in the streets during Russia's occupation. This is a fact that has been recorded. In the 21st century, it's impossible to hide these kinds of crimes. They were witnessed by observers and also recorded on camera," he added.

A team of experts from the forensic department of France's national gendarmerie has been working for several days to examine and identify those buried in the largest mass grave found to date in the devastated town.

The alleged violence by invading Russian forces in Bucha has shocked the world.

Local residents buried the bodies themselves during the bloody siege by the Russian army, which withdrew on 30 March after a month's occupation.

After their departure, bodies of men dressed in civilian clothes, some with their hands tied, were found scattered in the streets.

Since then, several mass graves have been discovered. The mayor of Bucha Anatoliy Fedoruk says more than 400 bodies have been found since the withdrawal of Russian troops.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court, which deals with rights abuses, has investigators in Ukraine and its chief has described the country as a "crime scene".

5:05 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia: 18 EU mission members must leave

Moscow said Friday that 18 members of the EU mission in Russia had been told to leave the country and blamed Brussels for destroying ties.

"Eighteen employees of the EU Delegation to Russia have been declared 'persona non grata' and will have to leave the territory of the Russian Federation in the near future," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The measure came after 19 Russian diplomats were ordered to leave the EU on April 5.

The ministry said it summoned Markus Ederer, the EU ambassador to Russia, to inform him of the retaliatory measures.

The statement said the EU bore responsibility for the "consistent destruction of the architecture of bilateral dialogue and cooperation" that had taken "decades" to create.

Western nations have expelled dozens of Russian diplomats amid increasing outrage over Moscow's military campaign in pro-Western Ukraine, and Russia has said that it will respond to all such expulsions.

4:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Mother of British soldier captured in Russia pleads with UK government for his release

The mother of a British man who has been captured by Russians troops while fighting in Ukraine urged for him to be treated with "humanity" and released, in Friday's Daily Telegraph.

Russian television late Thursday broadcast images of a young man handcuffed and with a cut on his forehead, saying that his name was Aiden Aslin.

Aslin's mother, Ang Wood, told the British newspaper she knew it was her 28-year-old son because of his distinctive tattoo.

"Aiden is a serving member of the Ukrainian armed forces, and as such is a prisoner of war and must be treated with humanity," she was quoted as saying by the newspaper. She holds Russian President Vladimir Putin "to the terms of the Geneva Convention," she added.

"It already looks like he has been beaten up. It is time now for the British government to get involved and help secure Aiden's release because he is still a British citizen," she said.

The newspaper reported that Aslin, known by his first name Johnny, joined the Ukrainian military in 2018 and bought a house in Ukraine to start a family with his fiancee. He previously fought alongside the Kurds against the Islamic State group in Syria, the newspaper said.

3:21 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Germany wants 2 billion euros more for Ukraine support

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants to spend an additional 2 billion euros ($2.16 billion) on new military equipment, mostly to help Ukraine, a government source said on Friday.

About 400 million euros of the new money is earmarked for the European Peace Facility, which buys weapons for Ukraine, while some other spending will be for bilateral supplies to Ukraine and elsewhere, the source said.

Chancellor Scholz was previously accused of "stalling" on sending weaponry to Ukraine.

1:59 PM

Russia's media regulator blocked the Russian-language website of the independent news outlet The Moscow Times over its coverage of Ukraine on Friday, reported AFP.

The Moscow Times, whose original English version was launched in 1992 by Dutch entrepreneur Derk Sauer, said its Russian service was shut down over what "authorities call a false report on riot police officers refusing to fight in Ukraine".

The English-language website of the publication remains unaffected.

Russia has restricted access to a growing number of independent media outlets since it launched its military campaign in Ukraine on 24 February, also blocking access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Russian lawmakers have also passed a law introducing up to 15 years in jail for publishing information about the military deemed false by the government.

1:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UNHCR:  'At least' 5 million refugees have fled Ukraine

More than five million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion almost two months ago, United Nations figures showed on Friday.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 4,796,245 million Ukrainians had fled across the borders, while the UN's International Organization for Migration says nearly 215,000 third-country nationals have also escaped to neighbouring countries, notably Poland and Romania.

UNHCR figures show nearly 645,000 Ukrainians fled in February, with nearly 3.4 million doing so in March and more than 760,000 leaving so far this month.

Women and children account for 90 percent of those who have left Ukraine, with men aged 18 to 60 eligible for military call-up and unable to leave.

Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes, including those still inside the country.

12:41 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia forces partially destroy Ukrainian military factory: report 

A Ukrainian military factory outside Kyiv that produced missiles allegedly used to hit Russia's Moskva warship was partially destroyed by overnight Russian strikes, an AFP journalist at the scene saw Friday.

A workshop and an administrative building at the Vizar plant, which lies near Kyiv's international Zhuliany airport, were seriously damaged. Russia had earlier announced it had hit the factory.

The Moskva flagship sank on Thursday, and Ukrainian forces claimed to have hit it with missiles. The Russian defence ministry said the ship sank when being towed.

11:01 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

There will be "consequences" if Finland, Sweden join NATO

Russia's foreign ministry on Friday warned of unspecified "consequences" should Finland and Sweden join the US-led NATO defence alliance, after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement: "The choice is up to the authorities of Sweden and Finland. But they should understand the consequences of such a step for our bilateral relations and for the architecture of European security as a whole".

The UK newspaper The Times said in a report that the two Nordic countries could join the NATO military alliance "as soon as summer".

Tytti Tuppurainen, the Finnish minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering told the British broadcaster Sky News in an interview on Friday that Helsinki is likely to join NATO and that the people of Finland "have made up that minds", but the issue still needs to be "discussed thoroughly" in parliament.

10:16 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukrainian defence minister "trolls" Russia on Twitter

The Ukrainian defence minister took to Twitter and posted a tweet “trolling” Russia, by making reference to the sinking of the flagship Moskva.

Oleksii Reznikov posted a picture of what it appears to be a turtle swimming in the ocean, with a diver next to it. He likened sunken Soviet-era ship to a “diving spot”,  saying that and said that he will  “visit” after Ukraine “claims victory” in the war.

Ukrainian forces claimed to have hit the ship with missiles on Thursday. The vessel sank later on as it was being towed to port, according to the Russian defence ministry.

9:34 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia warns of escalated attacks on Ukraine

Russia's defence ministry warned on Friday Moscow will intensify attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in response to strikes on Russian soil, after accusing Ukraine of targeting Russian border towns.

"The number and scale of missile strikes against targets in Kyiv will increase in response to any terrorist attacks or sabotage committed by the Kyiv nationalist regime on Russian territory," the ministry said in its daily update.

It added that Russian troops hit a "military" factory outside Kyiv late Thursday using Kalibr sea-based long-range missiles.

The ministry also said its S-400 missile system shot down a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter that carried out "an attack on civilians in the locality of Klimovo in Bryansk region on April 14".

On Thursday, Moscow accused Ukraine of sending helicopters to bomb a village in Russia's Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine, injuring eight people.

Later the same day, the head of Russia's Belgorod region said a village close to the border was shelled by Ukraine, while residents from this and a nearby village had been evacuated as a precaution.

Kyiv has denied the helicopter attack, instead accusing Russia of staging the incidents to stir up "anti-Ukrainian hysteria" in the country.

9:01 AM

Nine humanitarian corridors agreed for Friday

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on the messaging app Telegram that nine humanitarian corridors had been approved for Friday to evacuate civilians, including by private car from the besieged city of Mariupol.

Civilians will also be able to evacuate from Berdiansk, Tokmak, Enerhodar and Sievierodonetsk.

Humanitarian corridors in the Luhansk region will operate subject to the end of shelling by Russian forces, she added.

8:49 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukraine: Five killed by Russian airstrikes

Ukrainian authorities on Friday said that Russian strikes had killed five people in the east of the country following President Volodymyr Zelensky’s comments on Moscow's forces "aiming to destroy" the region.

In a report issued by the presidency, Kyiv said two people had been killed and two more wounded in the eastern Luhansk region while another three had been killed and seven wounded in the neighbouring Donetsk region.

In a late-night address on Thursday, Zelensky said: "It's Donbas that Russia wants to destroy. It is the Lugansk and Donetsk regions that Russian troops are destroying so that only stones remain and so there are no people left at all".

Authorities went on to add that explosions were heard in the Vasylkiv area outside the capital and that according to initially available information air defences had been activated.

Since Russian troops began withdrawing from regions of the capital last month, air sirens have been heard less frequently. They have instead focused on gaining control of the eastern Donbas region.

8:41 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Luhansk governor urges residents of six towns to evacuate

The governor of Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, on Friday called on residents of six towns to evacuate, adding that one person had been killed and five wounded in Russian shelling of the town of Kreminna.

Gaidai made the statement on the Telegram messaging app and said: “Choose life, buses are waiting for you at the pickup points. As are trains, of which there are enough".

32,000 residents have reportedly evacuated already, on different modes of transport such as trains and buses.

"Don't hesitate and leave while that possibility remains," he continued.

Gaidai's statements could not be immediately verified.