Ukrainian president Zelesnky posted his latest speech on Instagram speaking to the people of Ukraine and Europe. He spoke of resilience towards the occupying force but also addressed a message of war crimes and genocide. He continues reaching out to Europe and pleads for unity and freedom that so many European countries already enjoy.
Over the last week Russia has continued it’s invasion of Ukraine with repeated bombings, missile launches and drones. Next to military targets also residential areas are hit with apartment buildings crumbling to the ground, squares getting blown up and houses burning down. Millions of Ukrainians are fleeing the country but civilian casualties, including children, are rising every day with estimates going up to the thousands. Karim Khan, International Criminal Court prosecutor said he is launching an investigation on the situation in Ukraine when more and more footage and testimonies reach the world outside the war.
So, Russia is strongly accused with war crimes but to classify a conflict as a genocide there needs to be a definition. The United Nations define genocide as: “Killing members of the group”, “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” and “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.
As most genocides go, it will probably be too late to act when the world draws its conclusions. But that doesn’t take away from the atrocities that are happening now. Russian missile strikes are repeatedly bombing houses, apartments, schools and workplaces in multiple regions and cities of Ukraine. The Ukrainian emergency services speak of over 2000 deaths and far more wounded but stresses: “It is unknown how many people are actually still under fire and debris. There is no exact figure.” The United Nations said that 227 civilians have died and noted that the real figure is presumably higher.
How many Ukrainian servicemen have died so far is hard to tell. A fog of war rests over Ukraine and what both sides do know is not for the other to know. The Russian ministry of defense claims 498 of it’s troops have died with 1,597 wounded. The Ukrainian presidential advisor claims more than 7000 Russian soldiers have been killed. The Russian ministry speaks of 2,870 Ukrainian military deaths. Ukraine doesn’t give any official statements regarding it’s own military losses.
As Russia is trying to sweep the Ukrainian land, it tries to sweep it by numbers. It’s a big warmachine with a lot of reserves that is able to continue for a very long time but also leaves a massive trail of atrocities and war crimes behind. The question still remains if Putin is out for a genocide. In terms of ruthlessness, he already made up his mind. The idea that Ukraine now is, and strives for, is solidified by everyday people with civilian backgrounds taking up arms. It shows people from all over the world, including Russians themselves, how much Ukraine wants to stay independent and free. The other side of the coin however could be that if these Ukrainian men and women persevere in their fight, it is only a waiting game before Ukrainian military deaths reach more and more people.
Russian charities providing legal help to protesters and people in need: