(Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)
Russia’s history as a colonial empire has repeatedly brought genocide, forced deportation, and totalitarian tyranny to Ukraine. On 24 February 2022, after amassing 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, Russia began its war of aggression into Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin considers himself the restorer of the Russian Empire.
Putin and Russian media prepared Russians for the invasion by claiming that Ukraine is governed by Nazis. This is genocidal “mirroring.” Putin’s claim that Ukraine intended to commit genocide against Russia justified Russia’s invasion and genocide as “self-defense.” Many Russian troops explicitly profess neo-Nazi sentiments. Russian generals support aggression, random violence, torture, and war crimes, as they proved in Chechnya and Syria. Planned cultural genocide in Ukraine is disguised as “de-Nazification.” In reality, this means the destruction of Ukrainian culture, history, and traditions.
Putin claims that Ukraine is historically Russian territory. Appealing to Russia’s defeat of German Nazis in World War II, Putin claims that the intent of his invasion is to “de-Nazify Ukraine and end the “genocide” in the Donbas region. Putin’s real intentions are to depose the Ukrainian government, control Ukraine from Russia, ensure its neutrality, and seize Ukraine’s wealth. As Ukraine has retaken Russian forces from northern and central Ukraine, Putin has temporarily revised his goals to be the “liberation of Donbas”, Ukraine’s richest Russian speaking province, and control of Black Sea ports.
During the past six months, Russia has indiscriminately and intentionally targeted civilian housing, apartment buildings, shopping centers, the Mariupol theatre, a maternity hospital and 226 other healthcare facilities, and other areas where civilian non-combatants have taken refuge.
Russia’s policy is “Urbicide” – the destruction of whole cities with the intention of destroying a significant part of the Ukrainian national group. This is genocide. As Russian forces retreated from the suburbs of Kyiv, Ukraine uncovered numerous mass graves in Bucha and other towns. The bodies of many victims had their hands tied behind their backs, indicating that they were tortured before being executed. Putin has given “approval” to these acts of genocide, by decorating the brigade that committed war crimes and genocide in Bucha.
The United Nations (U.N.) has documented 5,000 civilian deaths at the hands of Russian forces. Ukrainian government investigators claim at least 12,000 have been killed. In many areas taken by Russian troops but reconquered by Ukraine, women survivors have reported mass rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Urbicide is both genocide and also a policy of forced deportation. Russia’s Urbicide is meant to empty Ukrainian cities so they can be permanently occupied and controlled by Russia. 1.6 million Ukrainians have been forcibly deported to Russia by the Russian Army. They go through “filtration camps” where families are often separated and then sent as far as Siberia. Those found disloyal to Russia are imprisoned, tortured, and often summarily executed. Over 5 million Ukrainians have also voluntarily fled into Europe, and 7 million are internally displaced in Ukraine.
Due to Russia’s intentional massacres of Ukrainian civilians, forced deportations, torture, sexual violence, and hate speech to incite, justify and deny genocide, Genocide Watch recognizes Ukraine to be at Stage 4: Dehumanization, Stage 8: Persecution, Stage 9: Extermination, and Stage 10: Denial.
Genocide Watch recommends that:
The US and other NATO countries should increase military aid to Ukraine and the Baltic states, including cruise missiles, fighter jets, torpedoes, tanks, and advanced anti-aircraft systems.
The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) should increase its Blue Dot Protection and Support Hubs in neighboring countries to provide aid, healthcare, education, and psychological support to refugees.
International Criminal Court investigators should work with Ukrainian investigators to build cases to try perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ukrainian courts and in the ICC.
The US and other countries should join other states-party as Intervenors in the case against Russia for violation of the Genocide Convention in the International Court of Justice.
© Genocide Watch 2022