Chinese TV Pundit Says Bucha Killings Were Staged

The Bucha mass killings were faked by Ukraine's leadership because President Volodymyr Zelensky is an actor, and Russia had no motive to kill civilians, a Chinese military expert concluded this week amid reports of horrific atrocities in the city northwest of Kyiv.

Song Zhongping, an adjunct professor and pundit for Hong Kong's Phoenix TV, has defended the Kremlin in a series of virtual lectures posted to his verified personal account on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

Song is also a frequent contributor to the country's nationalistic tabloid the Global Times.

In a video on Monday, he told his 11 million followers that allegations of mass civilian killings in Bucha were staged.

"After all, Zelensky is an actor; [this is] an actor's training," he said, before repeating a debunked claim about a dead body rising off the street soon after being filmed by Ukrainian authorities.

However, his next theory contradicted his first.

Song repeated Moscow's claim that the killings were in fact carried out by Ukrainian "Nazis." The residents of Bucha, he said, were likely shot for being Russian sympathizers. He expanded on his second argument in a new lecture posted on Tuesday.

"According to the footage, there are indeed some things that don't conform to common sense," Song said, again citing the debunked optical illusion and the apparent absence of blood.

However, during the five-minute clip, the TV pundit leaned toward the belief that the killings were real—but that Russia wasn't the perpetrator.

Ukrainian authorities said they discovered the bodies of hundreds of slain civilians over the weekend after the Russian army had withdrawn from the cities and towns they once occupied, possibly in order to consolidate manpower for a push in the east and south of the country.

Song said Russian troops had no cause to kill Bucha residents, but appeared to muddle the timeline of events.

"The Russian forces had no motive to kill people because the residents of Bucha didn't threaten the withdrawal of Russian troops," he said. "If they really wanted to kill these people, they would've done it when they entered Bucha, and wouldn't have waited until April 2. The Russian forces said they left Bucha on [March] 30, so the issue of killing doesn't exist, and Russia believes it didn't have a motive."

Among the top comments on Song's video was a user who noted satellite images that showed the bodies of civilians had lain on the street for weeks.

It was an apparent reference a New York Times visual investigation conducted using images from the commercial satellite company Maxar Technologies.

It showed shadows—later identified as human bodies—visible on the street on as early as March 19, more than 10 days before Russian soldiers left the area.

Syrian volunteers known as the White Helmets and mercenaries "controlled by the West" had a motive to kill the local residents, Song said. "They want to use the Bucha incident to accuse Russia of war crimes in order to undermine the peace talks."

According to the Chinese expert, Zelensky also had a reason to order the killings.

"Some residents of Bucha appeared to assist the Russian forces, so in Zelensky's eyes, they would've been traitors, and traitors should be punished," he said.

"The Zelensky government needed to use the Bucha massacre to accuse and smear Russia, so it was staged. It was staged. The so-called massacre doesn't exist," he concluded.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi appeared to sympathize with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, over the humanitarian crisis in the country when they spoke by phone on Monday.

Wang told Kuleba that Beijing only wanted to see peace in Ukraine.

However, in other areas of the Chinese government, and in nationalistic sections of society, support for Russia remains strong.

Last month, Wang hailed the Sino-Russian partnership as "ironclad," and China's Foreign Ministry just last week said cooperation between Beijing and Moscow had "no limits."

While Wang and Kuleba spoke, the Chinese Embassy in France retweeted a Russian Embassy post in French about the Bucha killings being "information warfare" by Ukraine. On Tuesday, the same account retweeted a state media report that quoted Moscow as saying Bucha was a "false flag attack" staged by Kyiv.

Volodymyr Zelensky Visits Scene of Bucha Massacre
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, center, speaks to the press in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 4, 2022. Ukrainian authorities have accused the Russian forces that once occupied Bucha of carrying out mass killings of civilians, but Russia denies the allegations, calling the massacre a staged false flag operation by Zelensky’s government. RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images