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Putin honors brigade accused of Bucha war crimes

Associated Press/Rodrigo Abd
A woman walks amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 3, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has honored a brigade accused by Ukraine of committing war crimes in Bucha, the Kyiv suburb where images have shown bodies in streets and mass graves.

Putin on Monday granted the 64th Motorized Infantry Brigade the title of Guards, which is considered an honorary designation, Bloomberg News reported.

Putin pointed to the infantry members’ “mass heroism and valor, tenacity and courage,” according to Agence France-Presse, with Putin saying they protected the “Motherland and state interests.”

The Russian president’s announcement did not, however, make note of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Bloomberg.

The Ukrainian defense ministry’s main intelligence directorate earlier this month accused members of the Russian brigade of committing war crimes against individuals in Bucha.

The city drew widespread attention when images surfaced showing dead bodies lying in the streets and in mass graves. The photos attracted widespread criticism.

President Biden called the killings in Bucha a war crime, and the U.S. imposed additional sanctions against Russia in response to the attacks.

Putin, however, called reports of human atrocities in Bucha “fake.”

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak commented on the 64th Motorized Infantry Brigade receiving the honorary designation on Twitter.

“While someone is debating whether [Russian] crimes in [Ukraine] can be called genocide, [Russia] continues to laugh in the face of the world. Putin awarded the honorary ‘guard’ title ‘For heroism and courage’ to the brigade stationed in Bucha. For the murder of children and rape of women, you mean?” Podolyak wrote.

Putin’s honor for the military group came in the seventh week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24.

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