Russia’s on-going attempt at genocide against Ukrainians raises a number of legal issues, although the intent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his associates, and even ordinary soldiers and their mothers is undoubtedly quite transparent: “Erase the Ukrainian nation from the face of the earth.”

This criminal genocidal intent is expressed directly by the Moscow Church and official statements of the Kremlin by individuals and publications.

In July 2021, Putin published a lengthy essay “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” claiming that Ukraine is an artificial entity that occupies historically Russian lands. Numerous legal experts and historians cited Putin's essay as part of the groundwork for incitement to genocide.


The shooting of civilians with their hands tied is indirect evidence of criminal genocidal intent. It may simply be the criminal intent of the soldiers, the immediate perpetrators. However, targeting a missile or drone at an orphanage can only be a manifestation of the criminal intent of those who give the orders.

In Russia – ultimately – only one person gives the orders. This is conclusive evidence of the criminal intent of genocide by Putin himself, a person who was, and is, the subject of investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC), regardless of whether Russia withdrew its signature from the Rome Treaty. This genocide is taking place on the territory of a state that signed the treaty and did not withdraw its signature.

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Response from the international courts and the UN

On March 17, 2023, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Putin and his surrogate Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian commissioner for Children's rights, alleging responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.  Although the arm of the ICC cannot reach the territory of the Russian Federation, the decision ensures the isolation of this criminal at least by the 123 countries abiding as signatories to the ICC statute.   


As a result, Putin is not able to travel freely, but should a state like Turkey – that actually invited him – provide immunity from arrest, it exposes itself to the condemnation of the whole world and the likelihood of becoming an outcast.

This is expected with Putin's planned visit to Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president and something of an international pariah, is likely to ignore the court's decision, even though Turkey seeks membership in the EU.

In addition to the ICC, there is also the International Court of Justice (IJC) at the Hague, which deliberates disputes between states. Here, Russia itself is a defendant in an action brought by Ukraine in February 2022. However, the wheels of justice have moved very slowly.  Today's genocide against the Ukrainian people is happening in the full glare of the media. There are many witnesses and much evidence. The actions of the world community, international institutions such as the IJC, the ICC, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council, are very much before the eyes of the world.


The UN Security Council is well beyond the bounds of justice and the rule of law and – frankly – an oxymoron on the subject of security. The crime of genocide is a particularly heinous crime, considered the most egregious, well beyond crimes such as aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as listed by the ICC, and merits special attention.

On Feb. 28, 2022, four days after the full-scale invasion began, the prosecutor of the ICC opened an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity. On March 2, 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution deploring the “aggression” committed by Russia against Ukraine. Two days later, the UN Human Rights Council called for a “swift and verifiable” withdrawal of Russian troops. On March 16, 2022, the ICC ordered Russia to immediately suspend its military operation.

Ukraine’s existential fight

I traveled to Irpin, a city near Kyiv, in September 2022. I saw the devastation of residential areas. I saw simple motor vehicles riddled with bullet holes on all sides. There was no doubt that Russia was targeting civilians. This was a very important observation of war crimes. Not far from Irpin and in the city of Bucha, bodies of civilians had been discovered with their hands tied behind their backs. They were shot execution style.


There is no doubt that these were war crimes, and circumstantial evidence of an attempted genocide. Targeting civilian residential areas, maternity wards, children, and kidnapping children, are all war crimes. The question presents itself: does this rise to the level of genocide?

Why are the Russians targeting civilian objects and even maternity wards and children? In view of the blatant language beginning with Putin's rewriting of Ukrainian history in July 2021, pilfering the history of Kyivan Rus' and stating that Ukrainians are not a nation, the intent is clear. 

If Kyivan Rus' is the history of Russia and Ukrainians are not a nation, then the intent to bomb maternity wards, kidnap children and target the civilian population is to eliminate Ukrainians. For Ukrainians, this is an existential war.

Existential in its very meaning signifies the existence of the country of Ukraine and its people. The characterization of the war as genocide is very real and substantiated by the facts which serve as evidence.

Why did the Russians invade Ukraine? By the Russians' own assertions, it was because Ukrainians are not even a nation. That is what Putin stated in his bizarre version of history.

What does that mean? The city of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was founded in the 5th century while the village of Muscovy, which is the capital of today's Russia, was founded in the 12th century. The sovereign Kyivan state was in existence in the 9th century while Muscovy became a sovereign state in the 16th century. Muscovite history is very sparse, short termed and replete with barbaric aggression.


Destroying an independent and democratic Ukraine is evidently essential to obliterate a people not only that live there, but also that refer to it as their motherland. That is why the majority of all Russian targets are civilian, maternal and life giving, providing energy and representing cultural treasures.

Russia needs the Ukrainian identity. To achieve that, it needs to destroy the Ukrainian people. It has tried in the past without success. Consider the Holodomor of 1932-33 when 7-10 million Ukrainians were starved to death by the Kremlin. Today's invasion of Ukraine is yet another attempt at genocide. The big difference is that today the Ukrainians are fighting back.

In a recent interview with his “useful idiot” Tucker Carlson, Putin repeated his perverse view of Ukrainian and Russian history. In fact, there was no Russia until the 18th century when it was artificially forged and named by Czar Peter following his victory against the combined forces of the Swedes and Ukrainian Cossacks in the battle of Poltava in 1709.


Czar Peter had commenced his criminal genocide against Ukrainians a year earlier by indiscriminately razing the city and slaughtering the inhabitants of Baturyn, the capitol of his nemesis, the Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa. Mazepa's courage was glorified a century later by the English poet Lord Byron.

Thus, for more than 300 years, the Russians have been attempting the genocide of the Ukrainian people. The current war is the latest example and a severe test requiring the resolve of the global community. Ukrainians have always persevered, but never overcome this dreaded evil. Today is the best opportunity to bring an end to the evil Russian empire. This requires the will of good people everywhere.

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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