Russia’s war crimes and crimes against humanity were the subject of a panel discussion at Kyiv’s 2023 Arsenal Book Fair held on June 22-25. The group discussed the war crimes and atrocities committed as an intentional attempt at genocide of the people of Ukraine.

The panel was organized with the support of the Austrian Institute for Human Sciences and included renowned international experts involved the human rights field. The lawyers, authors and human rights activists discussed Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine within the framework of genocide. They all supported the creation of a special tribunal for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. 

After only 15 months of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office has opened over 80,000 proceedings related to war crimes. Executions, torture of prisoners, mass rapes, including infants, women, men and even senior citizens, the forcible removal of children, obstruction of evacuation, and the shelling of civilians, hospitals and infrastructure are but a few of the types of Geneva Convention crimes the Russian army continues to commit against the Ukrainian people.

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 Ukraine demands the creation of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression, which it calls “the mother of all crimes.” 

Human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Oleksandra Matviichuk noted that numbers should not matter, “Even one single person can be an entire universe.” Remarking on the vast number of war crimes and crimes against humanity, she stressed that time is of the essence: “Now is the time to act. It is not possible to wait until after the war and the creation of a special tribunal on the Russian war of aggression. It is something that we are working on and it must gain momentum.”

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British writer and co-founder of The Reckoning Project Peter Pomerantsev stressed the importance of recognizing what is happening here as genocide. He argued that doing so would help prevent future genocidal crimes in other countries.

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Preventing genocide is an international legal duty, albeit unrealized, war crimes expert Wayne Jordash said. He believes that Russian propaganda narratives may very well contain the necessary evidence to prove Moscow’s intent to wipe the Ukrainian nation off the face of the earth.

French writer and Russia expert, Jonathan Littell provided unique insight into the Russian psyche. He claimed that the unimaginable and exceptional cruelty and violence perpetrated by the Russians against Ukrainians is an outgrowth of their own culture of deep-seated violence. 

“The only way they know is violence. Why be nicer to their enemy if they are not nice to their own?” said Littell.

Russia’s crime of genocide in Ukraine remains a controversial subject as proving intent, a legal conditionality, is difficult to demonstrate. Earlier, Kyiv Post reported on how Russia’s information warfare may prove intent to commit genocide against the Ukrainian nation.

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