A UN report published earlier this week found that despite committing “a wide range of war crimes," Russia’s aggression against Ukraine since the launch of the full-scale invasion last year did not yet amount to genocide.
Despite presenting evidence of murders, torture and rape of civilians by the Russian military, and the deportation of Ukrainian children, the report's authors said there was no direct evidence that they were motivated by genocidal intent, but did add that the issue warrants further investigation.
"We have not found that there has been a genocide within Ukraine," Norwegian judge Erik Mose, the head of the investigation team, told a press conference in Geneva.
However, "we have noted that there are some aspects which may raise questions with respect to that crime... but we have not yet put in any conclusion here," he said.
The findings would appear to be a blow to Ukraine, whose leader President Zelensky has long said that Russia’s actions amounted to genocide.
And while the report doesn’t rule out concluding a genocide has taken place at some point in the future, a source in the Ukrainian Presidential Office told Kyiv Post that the conclusions that war crimes had taken place but not genocide could in fact work in Ukraine’s favor.
They pointed out that genocide – often dubbed “the crime of crimes” – is notoriously difficult to prove and involves trials that last years, whereas war crimes can be less difficult to prove and convict.
Referring to the Special Tribunal that Ukraine and members of the international community are seeking to establish to hold the Kremlin to account for its invasions of Ukraine, the source said: “We do not want Putin to be sentenced in 2030 or even later.
“We expect a quick decision from the tribunal. And the results of the UN commission's investigation are important.”
One of the most high-profile genocide cases of recent years – that against the former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladić, nicknamed the ‘butcher of Bosnia’, – took more than 20 years from the committing of the crime to the conviction.
The UN report highlighted numerous Russian violations in Ukraine that it said amounted to war crimes, including widespread attacks on civilians and infrastructure, killings, torture and rape and other sexual violence.
It also said Moscow could be responsible for the even more serious "crimes against humanity," pointing to the wave of Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure that began last October, and to a "widespread pattern of torture and inhuman treatment" in areas under Russia's control.
The case against Vladimir Putin himself was given a boost after the publication of the UN’s report when the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president over Russia's alleged deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children during the conflict.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter