U.S. President Joe Biden has officially accused Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine.
Over the past few days, the world has been horrified to see the war crimes and other atrocities that the Russian forces have committed in Ukraine. In the town of Bucha alone, Ukrainian investigators have found over 400 civilians killed by the retreating Russian military.
Genocide or War Crimes?
“Yes, I called it genocide. It has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being — being able to be Ukrainian,” President Joe Biden said from Air Force One.
“And the amount — the evidence is mounting. It’s different than it was last week. The — more evidence is coming out of the — literally, the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine. And we’re going to only learn more and more about the devastation. And we’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me,” Biden added.
Zelensky applauded Biden’s move to call the Russian war crimes a genocide, adding that “calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil.”
But Biden isn’t the only one who has accused Russian forces of committing genocide in Ukraine. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have also either directly said or inferred that the Russian war crimes amount to genocide.
From the start, the Ukrainian government has embraced openness and has sought to show the world exactly what the Russian troops have committed. Kyiv has invited foreign experts and journalists to document the findings and to tell the world what happened.
France has already sent experts from the French National Police to Ukraine to help investigate Russian war crimes. The French team is comprised of forensics, ballistics, DNA, and explosive experts, as well as crime scene investigators.
What Is Genocide?
Genocide is the most serious crime against humanity and the worst crime that can be committed during the war. International law defines genocide as the intentional mass extermination of a particular group of people.
“We are definitely seeing evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Leila Sadat, an expert on war crimes and international law at Washington University in St. Louis, told NPR.
“Genocide requires this special intent, so we actually have to show that they’re committing all these terrible crimes in order to destroy, in part or in whole, the particular group,” Sadat added.
But genocide is very hard to prove, and it will take a thorough investigation to demonstrate that the Russian forces are intentionally committing large-scale extermination of the Ukrainian population.
In the event that Ukraine can prove genocide, the International Criminal Court, which is already doing an investigation on Russian actions in Ukraine, will take over.
Ukraine is not new to genocide. During the Soviet era, millions of Ukrainians died of hunger over Joseph Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture in the 1930s.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.