Ukraine war in photos, April 4: Horrors in Bucha — and one moment of hope

Grid’s daily curation of images from the war in Ukraine, taken by some of the world’s finest photojournalists.

In the early days of the war, Grid reported on the likely limitations of the U.S. and NATO response to the Russian invasion. Military and political experts agreed: A collision of NATO and Russian forces in Ukraine had to be avoided at all costs. The risks of global conflagration — even nuclear war — were too great. This meant there would be no NATO “boots on the ground” and no imposition of a no-fly zone; there would instead be a steady influx of weaponry to Ukraine, to support the resistance.

But some of those same experts suggested that certain circumstances could change the conversation. There might, one former senior U.S. official told Grid, be a “Srebrenica moment” — referring to the massacre of Bosnian civilians carried out in 1995.

We have now had such a moment. Perhaps several of them.

The name “Bucha” has joined a long list of datelines in the history of wartime horror. As Russian forces have been driven back from towns and small cities near the capital, Kyiv, Ukrainians have found evidence of atrocities. In Bucha, a small city of 35,000 just outside Kyiv, they have found bodies with bullet wounds in the back of their heads. Others with their hands bound. A mass grave near the Church of St. Andrew.

“You saw what happened in Bucha,” President Joe Biden said Monday. French President Emmanuel Macron called it “unbearable.” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said there would be investigations into “war crimes and — why not say it, too — genocide.”

You will see in this collection of photos that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to Bucha Monday — a reflection not just of his own level of outrage but also the confidence the Ukrainians have in their control of these territories.

What the response of the rest of the world will be — beyond the rhetoric — is not yet clear. Russia, for its part, called the stories a fabrication. “Stage-managed anti-Russian provocation,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The photographs here speak largely for themselves. We have included a satellite image that shows the site of the mass grave from the air.

There was a moment of hope in the battered city of Kharkiv, in the east. In the last photo below, a couple who could not have imagined what their wedding day would look like but couldn’t imagine postponing it either. Nastya Gracheva and Anton Sokolov posed for a photograph in the ruined courtyard of a shopping and office complex in central Kharkiv. Both are medical volunteers — one a doctor, the other a nurse — in an oncology clinic. Since the war, they have been providing free medical care to people in their homes and raising money to buy medicines for people who need them. We wish Gracheva and Sokolov a long and happy life together.

Abandoned military vehicles sit amidst massive destruction in the area of conflict in Bucha on Monday.
Ukrainian soldiers inspect the wreckage of a destroyed Russian armored column on a road in Bucha on Sunday.
Bodies of civilians lay in a mass grave in Bucha on Sunday.
A satellite image shows the probable mass grave site near the Church of St. Andrew in Bucha on March 31.
A civilian weeps in shock as he narrates being beaten by Russian soldiers when he was cooking soap on a fire on the streets of Vorzel, near by the town of Bucha, on Sunday.
A family grieves for a missing relative in front of a mass grave in Bucha on Sunday.
Ukrainian soldiers inspect the wreckage of a destroyed Russian armored column on the road in Bucha on Sunday.
A Ukrainian serviceman stands on the turret of a destroyed Russian army tank not far from Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks by the wreckage of a cargo aircraft amid the destruction at the military airport in the town of Hostomel, Ukraine, on Sunday.
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