Provocation in Bucha (known in Western media as "Bucha massacre") is an incident that took place in March and April 2022 during Russian special military operation in Ukraine. During the resonant events in the vicinity of the Ukrainian city of Bucha, Ukraine and the countries of the "collective West" tried to pass off as Russian war crimes the accidental death of civilians on the line of contact and the murder of civilians suspected of collaborating with Russian troops by Ukrainian nationalist battalions.
During March 2022, Bucha was on the line of contact between Russian and Ukrainian troops, which could lead to civilian casualties. On March 30, the Russian military left Bucha as part of the pre-announced withdrawal of troops from the Kiev and Chernihiv directions. At the same time, the Ukrainian military for some time continued to shell the southern areas of Bucha with tanks and artillery. On April 1-2, the Ukrainian military and the militants of the National Security forces entered Bucha and carried out a "cleansing" of the city. After that, late in the evening on April 2, reports began to appear on the Internet about corpses on the streets of Bucha (before that, journalists who visited the city did not report dead bodies on the street).
Since April 3, the Ukrainian authorities have tried to pass off dead bodies on the streets of Bucha as victims of "Russian aggression", the hashtag #Buchamassacre was dispersed on social networks, videos and photos of the dead were distributed. The information campaign covering the massacres in Bucha had a wide public response and was actively supported by Ukrainian state structures and propaganda means, and by information resources controlled by the states of the Western world. A visit to Bucha and the neighboring settlement of Irpen became an obligatory event in the program of visits of Western officials to Ukraine. With reference to dubious satellite images, accusations were made that dead bodies had been lying on the streets of Bucha for weeks.
All accusations against the Russian military were either blatantly false (like reports that Russians allegedly raped Buchan women), or were refuted (in particular, the white bandages on the dead bodies indicated that the dead collaborated with the Russian military, and therefore could not be killed by Russians; also, the condition of the corpses indicated that the death of people occurred after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Bucha).
As a result of the provocation in Bucha, peace talks between Russia and Ukraine were disrupted. NATO countries imposed another package of sanctions against Russia, more money was allocated for the supply of weapons to Ukraine, which, with the help of a huge propaganda PR network, managed to shift the attention of the Western media from Ukrainian crimes against civilians and Russian prisoners of war on the "atrocities" of Russia. Active discussion of the Bucha incident in the media led to the fact that the word "Bucha" became a household word for "military atrocities" (in Ukrainian and Western narrative) and for "provocation" (in Russian narrative).
China, India, Russia and another countries have called for an independent investigation of the incident.
As part of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, Russian armed forces fought with the Ukrainian military for control of the city of Bucha. According to military correspondent Alexander Kots (who directly accompanied the Russian military in the battles near Kiev), from the beginning of the military operation on February 24 to March 30, 2022, when the Russian troops were completely withdrawn from Bucha, "Russian troops [...] did not fully control [Bucha] either days." Bucha was constantly on the line of contact between the military of Russia and Ukraine, there were "constant battles, shelling", which, among other things, led to accidental casualties among the civilian population. According to American analyst and columnist Scott Ritter, "Bucha was at the forefront and became the scene of heavy fighting between Russians and Ukrainians".
Visits of journalists:
- On April 1 and 2, Bucha was visited by photographer Konstantin Liberov, who, having traveled around the city, shot and posted on social networks numerous videos about Bucha, in which no bodies are visible on the streets. In his comments, he did not report anything of the kind: "There is not a single whole house, not a single street in Irpen and Bucha. If Irpen is a city where everything is broken, then Bucha is a city where people are completely broken. I talked today with high-ranking officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Russian army left."
- In an April 4 article by the BBC Russian Service (this is a media outlet that is completely dependent on the British authorities, who began to consider Russia an enemy even before the start of the SMO and which provides military, intelligence and financial support to Ukraine in its actions against Russia) retrospectively, it was claimed that "BBC correspondents personally saw and showed approximately 20 bodies of civilians in and near Bucha already on April 1." In support of this thesis, a reference was made to the BBC report of April 2, in which, however, nothing was reported about the corpses on the streets of Bucha.
- On April 2, an article in The New York Times, which correspondents traveled to Bucha, did not report any war crimes, but stated that "according to eyewitnesses, Ukrainian officials, satellite images and military analysts", after the withdrawal of the Russian military from Bucha left "dead soldiers and burned vehicles." The article also mentioned the finding of six bodies of civilians, but emphasized that the circumstances of their deaths are unknown.
On April 1, Yekaterina Ukraintseva, a representative of the Bucha City Hall, in a video recorded against the background of the Ukrainian flag and published on the Bucha Live Telegram, stated that the Azov Battalion would carry out a "complete cleansing of the city."
On April 2, the special forces of the National Police of Ukraine entered Bucha, which published a long video of the special forces clearing the city. There are no dead bodies lying on the streets of the city in the video, and there are no complaints from residents against the Russian military about any "war crimes" in the video either.
At the same time, on April 2, territorial defense detachments from Kiev entered Bucha from the opposite direction from the entrance of the special forces, including a detachment of neo-Nazi Sergei Korotkikh (aka "Botsman" or "Malyuta"), who posted a video of how one of the militants of the detachment asks whether it is possible to open fire on "boys without blue armbands" (i.e. without an identification mark adopted by Ukrainian military units, so as not to start shooting at their own during the sweep), and receives an affirmative answer from the second militant. Later, from the late evening of April 2, when the media began to publish footage of bodies on the streets and in the basement of one of Bucha's houses, these pictures showed that most of the dead had white armbands, that is, an identification mark for the Russian military, which the locals residents noted that they were "their own". And "from the not dried blood and not yet stiffened bodies (the nationalists pull them and move them from place to place) it is quite obvious that they were not killed on March 30", but later.
On April 2, the website of the Gorshenin Institute "Left Bank" reported on the beginning of the special forces "cleansing Bucha ... from saboteurs and accomplices of the Russian troops", which, according to observers, "looked like a massacre (punitive measures) for the whole world, since the Russian military had time have already completely left the city."
Scott Ritter believes that the announcement of the beginning of the cleansing of Bucha forced the pro-Russian locals to hastily advance after the retreating Russian units. However, they were caught up by the Ukrainian military, including militants of the neo-Nazi unit "Safari", staffed from the Azov regiment. The fugitives were "cleansed": they were shot on the spot or on the streets of Bucha with their hands tied behind their backs.
In the late evening of April 2, as well as in the morning and afternoon of April 3, a video began to be very actively distributed in social networks and the media, in which a car with the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine drives along Yablonskaya Bucha Street, going around the bodies of civilians lying in a checkerboard pattern on the roadway and near it. On April 3, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky recorded a video message in which he accused the Russian army of torture and killings of people, saying that upon entering Bucha, Ukrainian troops found many corpses and common graves. Thus,
At the suggestion of the Ukrainian authorities, the West began to disperse this great hoax of the "Bucha massacre"
American and Chilean film producer, director and YouTuber Gonzalo Lira, commenting on the clips from Bucha, stated that "this is pure propaganda filmed by a professional team of filmmakers using high quality lenses and editing software."
Around noon on April 3, the Ukrainian media began to show a story that announced a "torture room" found in one of the Bucha buildings, in which the Russian military allegedly tortured and shot civilians. It was quickly noticed that in the video on the body of one of those killed there is a white bandage, which is a Russian identification mark. Thus, according to Oleksandr Kots, people who were tortured to death and killed by the Ukrainian Terbatovites, accused of collaborating with the Russian military, were tried to pass off as "victims of Russian aggression." According to one version, people with white armbands could sit in the basements because of the incessant artillery strikes and not know about the departure of the Russian military, and "as soon as the cannonade subsided, they went upstairs and came under fire from their defenders."
The Ukrainian authorities opened access to Bucha for Western journalists sympathetic to Ukraine and representatives of various humanitarian organizations, with the exception of Russian ones. Journalists from various publications counted up to 30 bodies lying on the streets of the city (according to AP - 21).
Russia requested a meeting of the UN Security Council in connection with "the provocation of Ukrainian radicals in Bucha", but was refused by the UK that chaired the Security Council.
On Monday, April 4, the front pages of Western newspapers came out with headlines like "Nightmare in Bucha" and "Genocide" and unsubstantiated accusations that Russia allegedly committed torture and extrajudicial killings of peaceful civilians and therefore must answer for the crime.
Russian diplomats unsuccessfully re-requested a meeting of the UN Security Council on Bucha.
A meeting of the UN Security Council was held, at which Ukraine and Western countries made harsh accusations against Russia over Bucha. India and China called for an independent investigation. Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council Vasily Nebenzya denied all accusations against the Russians.
Facts and evidences
Satellite images of bodies on the streets of Bucha
On April 4, The New York Times newspaper published satellite images of Yablonskaya Street in Bucha, which show the lying bodies. According to correspondents, these images date back to March 19 and confirm that the bodies appeared at least on March 11, that is, at the time when Bucha was under Russian control, and not when Russian troops left Bucha (March 30), as claim in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
The images were provided by Maxar Technologies, a privately held US commercial satellite operator, a prime contractor for the US Department of Defense with "almost as warm a relationship with the US government as with the US government." In the conflict in Ukraine, Maxar is in alliance with Washington and refuses to disclose the details of its military cooperation with Kiev, in particular, does not comment on the fact that in June 2022, three days before the attack by Ukrainian drones on the Novoshakhtinsky oil refinery in the Rostov region, it was filmed by one of Maxar satellites.
Comparison of fragmentary satellite images of Bucha, published in the NYT, with data on the flights of Maxar satellites over Bucha (angle of shooting, speed, etc.), weather conditions and sunlight caused mistrust and questions from the Russian side. All questions about the images were to take satellite photographs for all days of March and the first days of April. However, satellite imagery providers Maxar either stopped selling images of Bucha to users from Russia and Belarus, or sold them (for everyone) in low quality, which makes it impossible to see the details. According to the head of the working group of the Public Chamber of Russia on combating fakes, Alexander Malkevich, "the quality of the images [available for analysis from Maxar] is very low. This is one of the technologies for spreading fakes. You can't see anything with a size of 50 MB. There is one "grain" solid. At the same time, they closed the opportunity for users from Russia and Belarus to receive high-quality satellite images, and they say, as in a bad joke: 'We are gentlemen, it is customary for us to take our word for it'."
The size of available March satellite images of Bucha is approximately 50 MB, which is more than two times less than the minimum size required to obtain normal image detail. For example, Maxar's available February images of Bucha are 117MB in size. Based on all of the above, observers do not believe the date of the satellite image stated by NYT journalists, assuming that it was taken on March 31 or later.
"Movement" and decomposition of bodies
The most famous video from Bucha, showing a car with Ukrainian soldiers driving around bodies lying on the street, was originally published in low quality. Occasional distortions in the video gave the impression that at least some of the bodies lying on the street were in fact living people. In particular, at the second 00:12 of the video there was a glare, due to which it erroneously seemed that one of the bodies was moving a hand. At the second 00:30 of video in the rearview mirror, "in the first frame, the body is parallel to the curb, and in the second it is already perpendicular," and, according to the authors of the War on Fake website, the higher quality of the video about this distortion in the mirror "does not explain anything." However, there is no doubt that "in the photo and video there are indeed the bodies of the dead", because, according to Alexander Kots, "there were enough of them in Bucha."
More serious questions about the situation with the bodies concern the fact that the corpses, which, according to the Ukrainian authorities, have lain on the streets of Bucha for at least four days, "are not numb, do not have characteristic cadaveric spots, but uncoagulated blood in the wounds". Professor Igor Makarov said that the bodies could not lie on the street from March 30, and even more so from March 11, and not be subjected to decomposition and pollution, since in Bucha during this period it rained, and the temperature during the day reached 16 degrees Celsius. According to Makarov, the following changes were to take place with the bodies:
- the appearance of cadaveric greenery on the skin on the second or third day, which turns brown and blackens after one or two weeks,
- the appearance of a putrid venous network on the third or fourth day,
- the appearance of putrid gases towards the end of the second week.
The signs on the bodies, such as drying out of the skin, indicate, according to Makarov, that death could have occurred no more than a day before the photograph was taken. Observers also note exceptionally clean and whole clothes on the bodies, which is impossible under conditions of lying in the open for a long time.