UN comments on Ukraine genocide claims
The international body says it hasn’t documented associated patterns during the Ukrainian crisis
The UN has refused to back accusations by Kiev and Washington that Russia’s actions during its military operation in Ukraine amounted to genocide.
Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), was addressed on the issue by journalists on Friday.
“No, we have not documented patterns that could amount to [genocide],” she responded.
Shamdasani pointed out there were “a lot of these legal qualifications – crimes against humanity and genocide – at the end of the day would be for a court of law to determine.”
According to the UN’s own definition, ‘genocide’ includes “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Moscow of “genocide” after the events in the Kiev suburb of Bucha, where numerous bodies with signs of execution were discovered on April 1, shortly after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the area.
Russia, which insists that it doesn’t target civilian populations in Ukraine and only hits military targets, has rejected the claim and in turn has blamed Kiev of organizing a staged provocation in order to smear its forces.
However, US President Joe Biden has decided to follow Zelensky’s lead and has also accused Moscow of “genocide,” and of “trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian.”
The harsh comments have raised eyebrows in Washington, with NBC reporting that US intelligence agencies didn’t have information back then. Two State Department officials also complained to the broadcaster that Biden’s words “made it harder for the agency to credibly do its job” as it is up to the department to formally determine war crimes.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.