KYIV (NYTIMES) - It was not an easy case to crack. Ukrainian investigators had to stitch together radio intercepts, satellite images, security camera footage, witness statements and even social media posts.
But this week, they made a breakthrough and, for the first time since the war began, Ukrainian officials published the identities and photos of 10 Russian soldiers who they said had committed war crimes in Bucha, a suburb north of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, that was the site of some of the war's worst atrocities.
Hundreds of Ukrainian law enforcement agents have spent weeks pinpointing who the soldiers were who terrorised Bucha during the month of March, when Russian forces occupied the town and at least 400 civilians were killed.
Prosecutors said they showed photos of the 10 Russian soldiers they believed were involved to witnesses and victims - to make a positive identification. They were aided by a team of Ukrainian journalists from an organisation called Slidstvo.info who then delved into the social media accounts of those soldiers, publishing personal details about the suspects.
Ukraine's prosecutor general's office said in a statement on Thursday (April 28) that the 10 named Russian soldiers took civilians hostage, "killed them with hunger and thirst, kept them on their knees with their hands tied and their eyes taped" and "humiliated and beat" them.
The statement, which was posted on social media, included photos of the soldiers identified.
"We know all the details about them and their actions," President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in an overnight address. "And we will find everyone, just as we will find all the other Russian thugs who killed and tortured Ukrainians, who tormented our people, who destroyed houses and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine."
Russian officials have denied that their troops committed any war crimes in Bucha. President Vladimir Putin bestowed honours on the unit that was in Bucha, the 64th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, awarding them the title of "Guards". Ukrainian authorities said the 64th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade was responsible for some of the atrocities.
The investigation is likely to produce more detailed allegations in the coming days. The Ukrainians are working with French forensic experts and the International Criminal Court. Britain just announced that it, too, is sending in specialists.