BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government is implicating Russia in the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, based on satellite imagery, security sources said on Thursday.
German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that intelligence services intercepted a radio message from a Russian military source discussing the killing of civilians in Bucha.
“It is true that the federal government has signs of Russian aggression in Bucha,” said the source. “However, these findings on Bucha refer to satellite imagery. Radio transmissions cannot be unequivocally assigned to Bucha.”
The source doesn’t elaborate. He said there was no indication of an order from the Russian Army General Staff regarding Bucha.
Bucha, 37 km (23 mi) northwest of Kyiv, was occupied by Russian forces for more than a month after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Local officials say more than 300 people have been killed by Russian forces in Bucha alone, of which about 50 have been executed. Moscow denies the accusations.
Spiegel said German intelligence services intercepted the radio message and announced its findings to parliament on Wednesday, without citing a source.
Spiegel also said there were additional recordings whose physical origin was more difficult to pinpoint, suggesting similar events occurred in other Ukrainian cities.
The BND Foreign Intelligence Service declined to comment on the matter.
A German government spokesperson declined to comment on Spiegel’s report.
Ukraine accuses Russia of genocide and war crimes. The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Western allegations that Russian forces had executed civilians in Bucha were a “huge hoax” intended to discredit the Russian military and justify new Western sanctions.
Russia claims evidence of civilian executions as a cynical ruse by Ukraine and its Western allies. They are caught in a discriminatory anti-Russian paranoia, says Moscow.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke, Writing by Miranda Murray, Editing by Nick Macfie)