Volodymyr Zelenksyy: ‘Substantial Evidence’ Points To Russia Committing Genocide

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once again called on global leaders to take punitive action against Russia, saying “substantial evidence” in his country points to Russia committing genocide against his people but “not everyone has got the guts” to stand up and stop the bloodshed.

“It’s clear that is not even a war; it’s a genocide. They just killed people, not soldiers. People. They just shot people in the streets,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper of the numerous atrocities seen throughout the country since the start of Russia’s invasion, while highlighting the slaughter of people in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, in particular.

“These were not soldiers; they were civilians. They bound their hands; they forced children to watch as they raped their mothers; then they threw them in a well or in mass graves. Children, adults, the elderly. And we have substantial evidence that points to this being a genocide, audio and video where they talk about just how much they hate us,” he said in an interview that aired in full Sunday.

Video and satellite images taken in Bucha in recent weeks show bodies lining the streets while Russia’s military was in control of the region, rebutting Russia’s claim that the bodies had been placed there after its military left. Some of the bodies were seen with their hands bound behind their backs and gunshot wounds to the head.

Zelenskyy, a father of two, expressed particular heartbreak over a recent video circulating that shows a mother finding her child’s body down a well in the village of Buzova near Kyiv. He called the video “the most horrifying thing I have seen in my life.”

“I can’t watch it as a father, only because all you want after this is revenge and to kill. I have to watch it as the president of a state where a lot of people have died and lost their loved ones,” he said. “And there are millions of people who want to live. All of us want to fight. But we all have to do our best for this war not to be endless. The longer it is, the more we would lose.”

Nadiya Trubchaninova, 70, cries while holding the coffin of her son Vadym, 48, who was killed by Russian soldiers in Bucha, during his funeral in the cemetery of Mykulychi, on the outskirts of Kyiv on April 16.

Nadiya Trubchaninova, 70, cries while holding the coffin of her son Vadym, 48, who was killed by Russian soldiers in Bucha, during his funeral in the cemetery of Mykulychi, on the outskirts of Kyiv on April 16.
via Associated Press

He further shared his belief that the violence could escalate beyond Ukraine’s borders, stressing that Russia could use chemical or nuclear weapons and the rest of the world should “be ready.”

“For them, life of the people is nothing,” he said.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday also said he believes the killings in Ukraine are genocide but that he will “let the lawyers decide, internationally, whether or not it qualifies.” French President Emmanuel Macron, who has engaged in diplomatic discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the start of the war, has meanwhile stopped short of using such a label, saying an “escalation of words” won’t bring peace.

Zelenskyy said he has addressed Macron directly about that opinion and has invited the French leader, as well as Biden, to visit Ukraine to see the death and destruction firsthand.

Ukrainian Nicolai, 41, says goodbye to his daughter Elina, 4, and his wife, Lolita, on a train bound for Poland fleeing the war at the train station in Lviv, in western Ukraine, on April 15.

Ukrainian Nicolai, 41, says goodbye to his daughter Elina, 4, and his wife, Lolita, on a train bound for Poland fleeing the war at the train station in Lviv, in western Ukraine, on April 15.
via Associated Press

“He’ll come and see, and I am sure he will understand,” Zelenskyy said of Macron.

Genocide is a crime recognized under international law as an act that intends “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” according to the Genocide Convention, which was ratified by the U.S. in 1988.

The U.S. has recognized genocide only eight times since the Holocaust, with the government most recently in March accusing Myanmar of committing genocide against its minority Rohingya population. That recognition came nearly five years after the peak of the violence and follows similar recognitions by other countries, including Canada, France and Turkey.

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