Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed an honorary title on a brigade accused of war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense branded troops in the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade as war criminals earlier this month, after mass graves containing slain people were discovered and dead bodies lay on the street following Russian forces’ retreat from the Kyiv region.
Putin praised the unit on their “great heroism and courage” and bestowed the unit the title of “Guards” for “safeguarding Russia’s sovereignty” in a signed letter on Monday.
The president’s celebratory message stated, “Through astute and daring measures during the special military operation in Ukraine, the unit’s staff became a role model in completing its military duty, valor, dedication, and professionalism.”
The move will be seen as a public message to Ukraine’s government and the West, after various world leaders condemned Russian troops’ alleged atrocities in the Ukrainian towns of Bucha and Borodianka.
Earlier this month, reports of summary executions, cruelty, and indiscriminate shelling surfaced following Russia’s hasty retreat from central Ukraine.
Various international News media giants, including CNN and New York Times, who visited the scene spotted dozens of dead bodies buried or scattered across the ground in the ruined suburb of Bucha after a harsh takeover that lasted over a month.
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, blamed Russia for the killings and demanded that it stop committing “war crimes.”