Ukraine's Zelenskyy accuses Russia of war crimes in address to UN

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Thursday, April 7, 2022

Ukraine-published video still allegedly depicting dead civilians in Bucha, dated April 3.
Image: Ukrinform.

On Tuesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing war crimes against civilians during the ongoing invasion via live video feed to the United Nations Security Council.

Zelenskyy said: "The Russian military searched for and purposefully killed anyone who served our country. They shot and killed women outside their houses when they just tried to call someone who is alive. They killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies." Demanding the perpetrators and their superiors be brought before a war crimes tribunal and held accountable, he specified: "They cut off limbs, cut their throats. Women were raped and killed in front of their children."

Russian ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya repeated that the Government of Russia denies the allegations. He asserted that video footage was a "crude forgery" arranged by Ukraine. "You only saw what they showed you. The only ones who would fall for this are Western dilettantes," he said.

Ukraine said it found hundreds of dead bodies, notably in Bucha, after forces reclaimed areas outside capital city Kyiv. Iryna Venediktova, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, said on Sunday that 410 bodies were found in areas around Kyiv, telling Reuters: "We need to work with witnesses" to assess the extent of the crimes. "People today are so stressed that they are physically unable to speak," she said.

Ukraine-released video still allegedly depicting a car crushed by a tank with a driver (blurred) inside in Bucha, dated April 2.
Image: National Police of Ukraine.

On Sunday, Zelenskyy accused Russia of seeking: "The elimination of the whole nation, and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine." Asked if it was genocide on CBS program Face the Nation, Zelenskyy said: "Indeed. This is genocide." Ukraine released images depicting people shot in the back of the head, many with their hands tied behind their backs.

The Russian Ministry of Defence issued a statement on Monday reading: "During the time that [Bucha] has been under the control of the Russian armed forces, not a single local resident has suffered from any violent action. Russian servicemen have delivered and distributed 452 tonnes of humanitarian aid to civilians in [the] Kyiv Region." The statement claimed photographs were a hoax and "provocations of Ukrainian radicals."

Satellite photography over Bucha from Maxar Technologies appeared to show dead bodies in the same positions for weeks, as well as a mass grave at the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints. According to CNN, people were hoping to find their relatives in the grave which may contain upwards of a 150 people.

Nevertheless, Russia's Director of the Information Maria Zakharova, denied the legitimacy of footage from Bucha. "Who are the masters of provocation? Of course the United States and NATO," she said, saying the outrage was a planned attempt to tarnish Russia's reputation.

International responses were issued earlier this week despite Russia's stance. United Kingdom foreign minister Liz Truss said: "Britain has helped lead the way with sanctions to cripple the Putin war machine. We will do more to ramp up the pressure on Russia and we will keep pushing others to do more".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined: "We’re tightening the existing sanctions. We’re adding new ones. We’re doing it in full coordination with Europeans and other partners around the world. And one of the results is that the Russian economy is reeling."

"You can expect further sanctions announcements this week. And we are coordinating with our allies and partners on what the exact parameters of that will be," added US security advisor Jake Sullivan.