Zelensky on Russian war crimes: "This is genocide"

I don’t know if it meets the legal definition of genocide but I don’t fault him for reaching for that word to communicate his abhorrence at the scenes in Bucha and Irpin.


Social media is awash in horror today at the photos, videos, and eyewitness accounts emerging from the formerly occupied territory around Kiev. One small example:

There’s no way to know why those women were naked. But we can all guess.

Times change, but the Russian way of war doesn’t. Their forces always have been and always will be remorseless pillaging savages. In fact, I’d guess they’re worse now than they’ve been in the past: The strategic and tactical indiscipline they’ve displayed in the field likely encourages moral indiscipline as well.

How much do you want to see of what’s out there? How much can you take?


Imagine what’s happening in southern Ukrainian cities still under Russia’s control, like Kherson. Imagine what will happen to Ukrainian residents of those cities if they’re ceded to Russia in a peace deal.

That’s a momentous consequence of the revelations from the suburbs around Kiev: It’s politically impossible for Zelensky to forfeit territory to Russia now that he has every reason to believe that doing so would doom the Ukrainians there to Russian butchery. Even if he were willing, the bulk of Ukraine’s population might not accept such a deal at this point. Having seen what awaits their countrymen under Russian rule, they may insist on nothing less than the full expulsion of Russian troops from Ukrainian soil.


Which means, unless Russia’s army breaks, we’re in for a long war.

Until yesterday, whether the west was willing to support Ukraine in a long war was an open question and a matter of concern within the White House. It’s less of a concern today. Germany’s defense minister has already begun pushing the EU to ban the import of Russian gas in response to the evidence of war crimes trickling out. It’s a cinch too that Ukraine will begin receiving offensive weapons like tanks and artillery from western allies for the coming campaign in the east. In fact, it’s already started.

Instead of asking Zelensky to make concessions, his western allies are asking the International Criminal Court to investigate Russian atrocities:

There’s no shortage of journalism on the wires today chronicling what the Ukrainians who spent the past month under Russian occupation experienced. Some details are haunting, like Reuters noting that among the dead recovered in Bucha were people still clutching shopping bags. Assuming they were shot, which is likely, I can’t imagine a scenario in which their deaths wouldn’t be a war crime. Human Rights Watch is also beginning to interview witnesses in the Kiev suburbs and has heard of “a case of repeated rape; two cases of summary execution, one of six men, the other of one man; and other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians between February 27 and March 14, 2022.”


And then there’s this:

Russia has been accused by Ukraine of using children as “human shields” while regrouping its forces, as the first horrifying witness accounts from the newly liberated town of Bucha, near Kyiv, emerge.

Ukraine’s attorney general is gathering a dossier of claims about the Russian use of local children to avoid fire when in retreat from around Ukraine’s capital and elsewhere.

Coaches of children were said to have been placed in front of tanks in the village of Novyi Bykiv, close to the encircled city of Chernihiv, 100 miles north of Kyiv.

It was further alleged that children had been taken as hostages in a number of conflict hot spots around the country to ensure locals would not give the coordinates of the enemy’s movements to the Ukrainian forces.

There’s no telling what Russian forces might resort to if the battle turns against them in the south and east. One professor based in Moscow warns that the logic of “denazification” used by Putin to justify the war might potentially expand as Ukrainian resistance hardens. Initially “denazification” was code for toppling Zelensky’s government, the idea being that the “Nazis” in Kiev were supposedly holding the poor, sympathetic people of Ukraine hostage. But now that those people have rallied behind Zelensky and the Ukrainian army in trying to push the Russians out, they’re “Nazis” too. And one can’t be too ruthless when confronting Nazis in war.

So the worst is likely yet to come.


I’ll leave you with this happy note on a grim day. At least the suffering in northern Ukraine is over.

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