In recent weeks, Russia has begun pulling troops from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and the surrounding areas as they focus their offensive to the East. It is apparent that Donbas, a region in Eastern Ukraine, as well as coastal areas of Ukraine are the next Russian targets.
War Crimes and Human Rights Violations
A number of possible war crimes and human rights violations have been documented following the Russian retreat of Bucha, a town just outside of Kyiv. Ominous images emerging out of Bucha include the bodies of slain civilians throughout the city streets, mass grave sites including women and children, as well as evidence of execution style killings and sexual assault.
Responses From World Leaders
Russia has responded to these emerging images and corroborated stories by claiming the evidence against them is forged. Statements from Russian officials blame Western media outlets and Ukraine, calling the allegations of human rights violations “propaganda.” Meanwhile, world leaders have called for the investigation of Russian war crimes. United States President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal and demanded accountability. Additionally, numerous European leaders have condemned the inhumanity coming out of Bucha.
The President of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, who has been vocal about supporting the possibility of Ukraine joining the EU, spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, promising to document the war crimes in Bucha. In a surprising move, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, visited Kyiv to meet with President Zelenskyy in a powerful show of support.
Zelenskyy has remained in Kyiv and has indicated he continues to be open to diplomatic peace talks with Russia. His requests for more military aid from the U.S. and EU continue to persist.
Action from the United Nations
In response, the United Nations held a successful vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. Suspensions are very rare, and it sends an impactful political message that the documented atrocities in Ukraine will not be ignored on the global stage.
Brynn Larimer, Counter-Terrorism Research Fellow
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