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Cong. Resolution Recognizes Russia's Genocide in Ukraine

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Volodymyr Bondar, 61, mourns next to the grave of his son Oleksandr, 32, after burying him at the cemetery in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 16, 2022. Oleksandr joined the territorial Ukrainian defenders as a co-ordinator and was killed by a gunshot by the Russian army.

Staying silent protects Russia’s genocide in Ukraine

The Hill

December 20, 2022


This month, in a unanimous vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed Senate Resolution 713, which correctly identifies and designates Russian atrocities in Ukraine as genocide. Led by Ranking Member Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the resolution looks poised to pass the Senate, sending a clear message to the world where the United States stands during this moment of supreme moral urgency.

This resolution, and its companion in the House, brings clarity and attention to Russia’s genocide in Ukraine. Every day seems to bring fresh, compounding evidence of Russia’s genocidal intent and patterns of action — mass graves and torture chambers that seem to pockmark every liberated territory; homes, schools, hospitals and kindergartens repeatedly and deliberately targeted by Russian firepower; civilians, including children and infants, kidnapped and herded into Russian so-called “filtration” concentration camps, where they are sorted for either Russification or the gulag or worse; and flagrant attacks against refugee and humanitarian convoys.

If you care to look, these images repeat themselves throughout Ukraine, and it is as safe a bet as any that newly liberated areas will bear the blistering scars of this genocide. Sure enough, mass graves and torture chambers have been identified in recently liberated Mykolaiv and Kherson, including an archipelago of torture sites specifically for children. This is the apogee of depravity.

The physical evidence is shocking enough, but the Russian government’s very public embrace of a campaign of terror and genocide is incredible to behold. The summer before the invasion, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin penned, by his own hand, a 7,000-word ahistorical screed denying the existence of Ukraine as a state and a nation, highlighting his eliminationist agenda for all the world to see.

And ever since then, Russian government figures at every level have repeated this noxious and ridiculous denial of Ukrainian nationality, deliberately dehumanizing and mass violence-encouraging rhetoric about “denazification,” and outright, even gleeful, calls for mass killing and destruction. The official state mouthpiece, RIA Novosti, even published in April a detailed plan laying out the intended destruction of the Ukrainian nation.

What is striking about this genocide is perhaps the clarity and openness by which it has been prosecuted. And the pattern of action is startlingly predictable; not just in Ukraine, but also in Russia’s past colonial wars in Syria, Georgia and Chechnya, where ethnic cleansing, deliberate and widespread targeting of civilians, torture and rape were employed widely and purposefully as rote tools of Russian warfare.

So, what can we do about it? For one, we can and should give Ukraine every tool that it needs to win its war against Russia’s genocidal war of imperial conquest. The faster Russia loses — and lose it must — the faster its genocidal program is halted.

But also crucially, Congress, the U.S. government, and the world must be willing to call this genocide for what it is. In June, our co-chairman, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced House Resolution 1205, which later would be introduced in the Senate as S. Res.713. Both resolutions draw on the definition of genocide in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, to which the U.S. and Russia are both parties and which is codified in U.S. law.

The bill text illustrates how, as is well documented, Russia’s actions in Ukraine exhibits both genocidal intent and pattern of action along all of the Convention’s five acts in Article 2: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Only one must be in evidence for genocide to exist.

But what can a nonbinding resolution do? In this case, speaking out is more than some mere symbol. Ukraine’s war for its homeland is being won not because of Ukrainian material superiority, but because of the justness of its cause and the morale of its people. For the United States to officially recognize the extent of Russia’s horrors is tremendously meaningful to Ukraine and Ukrainians who still, despite their victories, endure the unendurable.

Around the world, such a designation also demonstrates that we do not tolerate such heinous crimes. Calling out Russia’s genocide demonstrates the gravity of the stakes not only for Ukraine and Europe, but for global peace and stability. It can marshal further support for Kyiv, help sap Moscow’s fraying relationships, and further isolate this repugnant, totalitarian regime in the Kremlin. If you stand with Russia, or stand silent, you protect genocide.

And here at home, these bipartisan, bicameral resolutions can help signal to the American people the true stakes in Ukraine. That Europe’s security, and the principles that undergird it, is a bulwark for freedom around the world and under great threat by a regime that purposefully and unflinchingly engages in genocide for its own imperial, corrupt ends.

It is important to emphasize, too, that the 1948 Genocide Convention is about not only punishing genocide, but preventing it, and if we are to be true to our collective commitment to “never again,” we must act now. Of course, the ongoing legal investigations remain important and authoritative. But in the interest of prevention, a political declaration and congressional action is not only justifiable but essential.

Congress, particularly Reps. Cohen and Wilson in the House, and Sens. Risch and Cardin in the Senate, should be applauded for their leadership. And the Senate, particularly Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), should be credited for bringing this resolution to fruition. Hopefully the House will do the same, in this Congress or the next, inspire the whole world to speak out as well — just as we were inspired by similar legislative actions in Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Canada and Ireland.

Michael Hikari Cecire is a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Helsinki Commission. Follow him on Twitter @mhikaric.

Copyright 2022 The Hill

Tell your Members of Congress to declare Russia's actions in Ukraine a genocide

New Action Item from Razom On November 26, Ukrainians around the world commemorated Holodomor Remembrance Day, remembering the millions of Ukrainians starved to death by the Soviet regime in an artificially-created famine. Today, the Ukrainian nation is once again fighting for its right to exist.

S.Res. 713 and H.Res. 1205 recognize Russia's actions in Ukraine as genocide. Russia's invasion of Ukraine unambiguously meets the definition of the term genocide as defined by the Genocide Convention and reflected in U.S. law. Passing this important resolution reaffirms America's commitment to our fundamental principles and underscores the seriousness of Russia's crimes.

Please email, call, or tweet your Members of Congress today and ask them to cosponsor and support this important resolution! You can take action by following the link below:

Razom and other partner organizations have also co-signed a letter supporting Senate Recognition of Russia's Genocide of Ukrainians.

Russia’s policies in Ukraine undoubtedly point to genocidal intent and genocidal acts. S. Res. 713 and H. Res. 1205 reaffirm America’s commitment to our fundamental principles, underscoring the seriousness of Russia’s crimes. If we do not recognize this invasion for what it is, we not only fail the Ukrainian people, but we neglect our security interests and our foundational values. In the letter attached below, Razom et alia urge the Committee to pass this important resolution before the conclusion of the 117th Congress. The United States must recognize and help end genocide, and not just memorialize it after the ruination and devastation of a nation.

You can view the letter in full via the link below: This action item and joint letter were shared by Razom, an organization dedicated to supporting the needs of Ukrainians on the ground and creating opportunities to amplify voices from Ukraine in conversations in the United States. The Alliance Against Genocide welcomes Razom as a new member organization dedicated to tackling genocide and other similar human rights abuses in the world today. You can learn more about the organization via the link below:


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