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The mayor of a Ukrainian city is in Washington looking for help to rebuild


Some of the earliest atrocities in Russia's war in Ukraine came in the city of Bucha. Now the mayor of that town is in Washington asking for help to rebuild. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk calls this a war of civilizations, one that Ukrainians are now determined to win with help from the West. And he says that means holding Russians to account.

ANATOLIY FEDORUK: (Speaking Ukrainian).

KELEMEN: Just like Nazism was prosecuted after the Second World War, Russian fascists - or Ruscists, as he calls them - have to be brought to justice. He told the Wilson Center for Scholars, a Washington think tank, that 419 Ukrainian civilians were killed when the Russians occupied Bucha. The images of dead bodies littering the streets galvanize world opinion, says Mark Green, a former Trump administration official who now runs the Wilson Center.

MARK GREEN: And it is one of the ironies of this war that the very brutality that Putin tried to use to scare people, to beat them into submission, actually had the reverse impact of awakening the world, of bringing the world together.

KELEMEN: He says it also accelerated and expanded U.S. support for Ukraine. Now some lawmakers are calling for more oversight to that aid. Brock Bierman, who runs a private aid group, Friends of Ukraine, is working with the mayor of Bucha to try to ease those concerns.

BROCK BIERMAN: They're not looking for a handout. They're looking for a hand up. They need partnerships. We have partnered with them in an equal way to rebuild a school, to provide assistance at the local levels, rebuild playgrounds.

KELEMEN: But with Russia continuing to bomb Ukrainian infrastructure, the costs are mounting. Mayor Fedoruk blames the Russians for $1.5 billion in damages in Bucha alone.

FEDORUK: (Through interpreter) We are obliged to demonstrate, first of all to ourselves and for the whole world, that Bucha can be like a phoenix, to rise from the dust.

KELEMEN: He's vowing to rebuild, but says Ukrainians won't forgive what Russia has done.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF TESK'S "LEGO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.