Following denials by the Russian Federation that it had involvement in the Bucha mass killings, German intelligence has now revealed that they had intercepted radio transmissions of Russian soldiers, hearing discussions of them killing civilians in Bucha. This would be further evidence of war crimes against the Russian forces following massive findings that they were responsible for the summary executions.
The intercepted radio communications were obtained by Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), and subsequently presented to the German parliament last Wednesday as per a report by the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, which broke the story on Thursday.
Note that it is completely plausible that the Russian military could have been vulnerable to intercepts as they have been communicating on unsecured lines, using smartphones with local sim cards, and VHF/UHF radios that could easily be jammed and intercepted. It was this carelessness that probably cost Russian Major General Vitaly Gerasimov his life as the Russians revealed his location through radio, making it possible for the Ukrainians to locate and kill him.
An intelligence official revealed that they heard the Russian forces casually discussing how they questioned soldiers and civilians, then subsequently shot them. It could also be heard that the soldiers were talking about how they killed someone who was riding their bicycle. These killings are being increasingly documented by independent journalists and news agencies.
The official only spoke to the news outlet on the condition of anonymity. However, the legitimacy of the report stands as it was confirmed by three other people who were familiar with the information. It is important to note that while some recordings could be linked to Bucha’s mass killings, it could also be the case that the Russians were talking about killings in other areas in Ukraine. It was reported that civilian targeting was widespread.
It was also confirmed through the radio intercept that members of the Wagner Group were operating in Bucha during the time the town was under Russian control. According to intelligence officials, they had also played a vital role in killing civilians. The Wagner Group, a neo-Nazi Russian mercenary organization, is closely linked to Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin (who is reported to own the group) and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. The group has often been dubbed “Putin’s Private Army.”
There have been reports that Russian units comprised of Wagner Group, The FSB, and the Ministry of the Interior operate behind Russian lines rounding up Russian deserters and either arresting or shooting them on the spot.
“What we have seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit. It’s a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities,” Blinken told reporters last Tuesday. “The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see.”
Blinken’s statements can be further verified by Britain’s intelligence unit, MI6, where Chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Richard Moore stated through a tweet that they “knew Putin’s invasion plans included summary executions by his military and intelligence services,” and that “The reports of execution-style killings of civilians emerging from liberated areas are horrifying and chilling.”
— Kira Rudik (@kiraincongress) April 2, 2022
These radio recordings can further dig Russia’s metaphorical grave during various investigations being launched against them due to their actions in the Bucha mass killings, which has since been a world symbol for Russia’s alleged war crimes. These recordings also give the public an insight into what thought processes the Russian forces may be going through when killing Ukrainian civilians, giving a further understanding of their current psychological state.
Following the German intelligence agency obtaining the tapes, they proceeded to brief two parliamentary committees regarding the results of their analysis and findings.
According to a report by The Washington Post, a person familiar with the proceedings said that the recording does provide insight into the Russians’ attitude. However, they also admitted that it may not be used as hard evidence against the Russians as it does not reveal “who shot whom at what time.”
This is not the first time the Russians’ had their communications intercepted. Last week, the Ukrainian Armed Forces intercepted a series of Russian radio communications revealing that the Russians raped a 16-year-old girl and that they ate stray dogs to fill their stomachs. Western leaders warn that these atrocities are just the beginning. More evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity would soon arise as Ukrainians gain back more of their territory in Southern Ukraine.
Russia continues with its usual rhetoric of denial, saying that the killings were staged in Bucha and that they had nothing to do with them. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya, during the UNSC hearing regarding the killings, accused the West of “fueling anti-Russian hysteria” to the entire world and described the alleged move as “an incredibly low blow.”