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Putin Committed Genocide in Ukraine. Here Is How to Make Him Pay

Putin Ukraine Sanctions
Ukrainian Army Tank Firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

A Special Ukraine War Crimes Tribunal: Urgently Needed – Stand by for more of the “serious consequences” which Western democracies will levy onto the Russian state and its war criminals—lots more shocking pronouncements, and more economic sanctions, an ineffective tool if the idea is to pressure a quick end to the atrocities.

In other words, not much but political condemnations; democratic leaders dine nicely during spring evenings in secure environments, while civilians in Mariupol and elsewhere starve, endure horrible shelling, and risk dangerous flight on open roads where Russians easily and deliberately target those fleeing.

The international media for its part is trying its best with limited access to unveil the horrors in Bucha and elsewhere; but beyond statements, Western governments’ responses have been noisy but glacial. Perhaps they fear angering Putin, but a close read of intelligence community assessments indicates the Russian leader is about as angry as one man can get in any case.

Moreover, circumstantial evidence suggests he wouldn’t act overtly rashly if the world began serious efforts to hold him and the Russian military to account, war crimes tribunals not being an existential military threat to Russia. He invoked no harsh “consequences” when President Biden and others declared him a “war criminal.”  If that personal insult didn’t inspire a counteraction, it is unlikely he would take significant further actions just because the West began to shine klieg lights on Russia’s humanitarian crimes.

Sanctions do harm Russia, but only in a longer timeline, and increasingly Russia is developing workarounds. Meanwhile, Russian forces continue what now amounts to an intentional and planned massacre of civilians, a version of genocide and a universal crime in the eyes of international law, all intended in the Russian warfare model to break the morale of the enemy as in Syria and Chechnya.

In addition to more sanctions, there are two important, more serious, and more urgent responses democratic nations can undertake which would carry more immediate import for Russia’s war.

First, Ukraine’s President Zelensky has publicly wondered why weapons that might have offensive capability can’t nevertheless be supplied and used in Ukraine’s own sovereign territory for defensive protection.  So hasten the discussion and process urgently to deliver offensive weaponry to be used defensively by the Ukrainian forces.

Some Soviet-era tanks may be on the way soon, but add in jet aircraft and more antiaircraft batteries such as Russia’s own S-300’s, a long-range surface-to-air missile system to target Russian aircraft, which could be provided by Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Greece.  Provide counterbattery weapon systems to beef up counterattacks on the Russian artillery, among other weapons. Longer-range artillery such as the older M270 multiple-launch rocket system in the inventories of several nations would also greatly bolster Ukraine’s ability to attack Russian artillery and GRAD missile batteries.  President Zelensky has also requested anti-ship missiles, to help break the Russian naval blockades in the Black Sea.

With the Kyiv region recovered, all these weapons and others could be diverted to help lift the siege of Mariupol and other cities, and support counterattacks in any region of Ukraine in which Russian forces remain.

Secondly, swiftly hold an urgent summit to debate and establish a special international tribunal to both investigate and prosecute the Russian war crimes.  Equally and urgently, make these extensive war crimes a policy centerpiece of western policy going forward, as has been done with economic sanctions.  Make clear the tribunal’s work will be open and transparent at all times, so the world will learn the full extent of Russia’s crimes.

The Nuremberg Tribunal especially, and special tribunals convened for the Yugoslavia and Rwandan genocides, provide the template—a bespoke special international tribunal, convoked perhaps by the UN General Assembly (in lieu of the Security Council where Russia and China hold vetoes), or more probably by a consortium or coalition of like-minded countries as with Nuremberg.

The ICC has undertaken investigations but is a slow-moving and increasingly less credible organization. The 2005 UN Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine calls for action but has no enforcement mechanism.  Individual nations have small quiet investigations underway, but a central tribunal would better marshal these efforts.

Set up a central database, perhaps under the EU in Brussels, to assemble, collate and analyze all the evidence as it is collected. Again, make all evidence collected public. As apparently hasn’t been done yet in a consistent way, task intelligence, and police agencies in the U.S. and Europe through executive taskers to make war crimes intelligence and analysis the highest priority.

In the U.S, for the noncommissioned soldiers, the U.S. Department of Justice team which sought Nazi perpetrators — the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), now the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP)–should be re-energized and expanded to do the heavy lifting of building cases against all manner of Russian officers and soldiers who directly engage in these civilian-targeted atrocities. Here the Demjanjuk case and others are a template for pursuing these war criminals, no matter how minor their rank, in the courts of any state which can capture them and bring them to trial.

Equally, to ramp up these investigations and judicial processes urgently, Congress and European parliaments should appropriate generous funding on the Ukraine issues.  Such funding should ensure that the willpower to pursue all possible legal avenues for all manner of Russian criminals does not flag.

The West stood by weakly as genocide took place in Darfur and Rwanda, and only acted belatedly in the former Yugoslavia. Shall European and U.S leaders do the same again, or take a very small risk that Russia would not suddenly act precipitously. So far, the elected democracies are fielding leaders who seem to prefer timidity, preemptive capitulation, and zero risk when it comes to Ukriane.

Yet, a new war crimes tribunal, and concomitant investigations by numerous countries and the tribunal itself, are non-violent policies, not involving weapons of any kind, which fits with the liberal western view to avoid offensive attacks on Russia.

Richard Sindelar, @FSOProf, a retired U.S. diplomat with three tours of duty in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, now serves as Director of the Center for International Studies at Houston’s University of St. Thomas, where he teaches courses in U.S. foreign policy and international law, among others.  During his Foreign Service career, Prof. Sindelar while in Israel worked with international agencies to build evidence against Nazi concentration camp authorities and guards, and later spent two years in Washington as Director of Coordination, among other duties which included working with OSI to pursue Nazi war criminals in the U.S.

Written By

Richard Sindelar (bio), @FSOProf, a retired U.S. diplomat with three tours of duty in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, now serves as Director of the Center for International Studies at Houston’s University of St. Thomas, where he teaches courses in U.S. foreign policy and international law, among others.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Alex

    April 4, 2022 at 9:15 am

    Who’s genocide? Bandera Nazis? We hope that all of them will be destroyed by the Ukrainians of Donbass with the help of Russian troops. Do you want to talk about the genocide of Ukrainians in Donbass, which lasted 8 years? About the brutal torture and murder of Ukrainians that Bandera Nazis did to them? No, you won’t say that – it’s not profitable.

  2. L'amateur d'aéroplanes

    April 4, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    This should not be seen as a ”genocide” project but as the resumption of the ”sovietization” policies undertaken in the countries of Eastern Europe under Stalin after 1945. The basic idea (All inhabitant of Ukraine who does not consider himself Russian is a Nazi) is absurd… however, if we start from this completely biased starting point, everything else is absolutely logical, coherent and each point of this program is the logical continuation of the preceding point. But the end result is a call for what under international law is genocide.

  3. Alex had a bad day

    April 4, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    Princess Alexsis might want to sit this one out. Genocide against innocent civilians is a hard no in any civilized society. Might want to get your papers in order, Alexis. The world is coming for you.

  4. Alex

    April 4, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    I am sure that after the special military operation on denazification and demilitarization in Ukraine there will be a military tribunal. I think it will stretch for weeks and even months, because it is necessary that not a single crime of the Bandera Nazis be forgotten. I am sure that Bandera Nazis will be judged in such a way that Bandera Nazis will envy Hitler’s Nazis. Although, many will not even live to see the trial. Especially those who try to write under different nicknames something for which a prison term is required in any country in the world.

  5. L'amateur d'aéroplanes

    April 4, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk Republic (DPR), decorates a soldier with a “modernized” emblem of the totenkopf used by the SS

    And if you say to yourself “coincidence”

    Just below, the Valknut emblem associated with Wotanism, a Germanic neo-paganist identity movement :

    https://image.noelshack.com/fichiers/2022/14/1/1649090860-totenkopf.png

  6. Vladolph Putler

    April 4, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    I think genocide is a dramatic exaggeration at this point. Bizarrely brutal war crimes, yes. Genocide? No. Not yet, at least. Remember, Russians have diverted *substantial* numbers of Ukrainian civilians into their territory by force.

    As to the nickname that would have Putin raping me as his soldiers like to do? Probably not. Russians seem to prefer children, as seen in Bucha and Borodyanka.

    Besides, I am a distant relative of Putin himself. Twice removed second cousin by marriage or something. It’s a hyphenated name. Very trendy these days. 😉

  7. Peace-keeping nukes of US arsenal

    April 4, 2022 at 2:23 pm

    Now is THE TIME for biden to bring out his nuclear tools to solve genocide or perhaps perpetrate the mother of all genocides i.e. ww3.

    Biden voted for the 2003 iraq war that was sold to the US public and the world via 935 lies. That war killed over a million iraqis.

    Today, biden is again responsible for the 2022 ukraine war, having manufactured the right conditions and circumstances, using ukrainian blood as war grease.

    Now, all biden has to do is to order tactical nuke commanders in europe to keep the powder dey and wait for NATO’s senior field commander’s order to let loose.

  8. Alex

    April 4, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    In our time, there is nothing funnier than listening to a Bandera Nazi screeching about genocide and begging Biden to unleash a nuclear war. All you can now is to climb into the caches of your dead Nazi ancestors and wait until they get you out and punish you. Clowns 🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. Vladolph Putler

    April 4, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    Nah, that clown is yours. Just another Putinbot. He’s your homie, dude.

    But there is some irony in your depiction. Sounds like a description of your own rants Mr. Alex. XD

    I’d say nice alley oop, but that was sloppy at best. But your trollery is improving a *bit*.

    I guess it’s really not a fair game though. People who don’t live with free speech just aren’t really that good at it.

    But since we are talking about punishing, it looks like your fearless warriors attempting a casual tactical retreat, turned into a frantic rout being chased by Ukrainian infantry and backed by mobile artillery- all the way from Pryluky past Konotop where Russians blew the Chumakove bridge to stop the armored infantry advance. 200km in a day. That’s some pretty impressive fleeing.

    Russians behind the initial retreat were so heavily overrun, that delaying actions completely failed and once again PILES of Russian equipment was taken intact. Including several unfired TOS thermobaric artillery systems.

    But hey, nothing gives fire to a troll’s belly, like a blistering defeat, right?

  10. Vladolph Putler

    April 4, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    Incidentally, with that bridge blown, the Seym river to the South and West boxes the Russians in, not just the Ukrainians out. To the north, Ukraine now controls the M02 highway and border crossing.

    Not sure what they have planned, but it is going to be pretty interesting to make that final 15km retreat into Russia through spring swamp and forest with heavy mechanized equipment. What is it the Russians scream when they are scared…

    Oh yeah- BAYRAKTAR!!!

  11. Alex

    April 4, 2022 at 4:50 pm

    What is genocide and what exactly preceded the start of the Russian special military operation for denazification and demilitarization in Ukraine?

    On February 15, at a joint press conference in Moscow between the President of Russia and the German Chancellor, Vladimir Putin disagreed with Olaf Scholz’s statement that there were no wars in Europe after World War II. “The Chancellor just said that people of his generation, and I belong to this generation, can hardly imagine any kind of war in Europe. This was said in relation to the situation in Ukraine. But you and I were witnesses of a war in Europe, unleashed just by the NATO bloc against Yugoslavia. A major military operation with missile and bomb attacks on one of the European capitals – Belgrade. It happened. Without the sanction of the UN Security Council. This is a very bad example, “Putin said.

    The Chancellor tried to protest, but pushed himself even further into a corner. “In Yugoslavia, the situation was somewhat different. There was a danger and a threat of genocide, and this had to be prevented. And I am very pleased that everything is developing peacefully there, that the peoples of the Balkans have found a prospect in the direction of the EU. All this is a very good sign,” he said. is he. In other words, in order to prevent the mythical genocide by the Serbs, they, the Serbs, had to be destroyed, which was done by the United States and NATO, all this “civilized West” represented by Scholz.

    It should be reminded that according to official data alone, during the bombing of Belgrade in 1999, more than 1,700 people were killed, including almost 400 children, and about 10,000 were seriously injured. 821 people went missing, the vast majority of whom are Serbs. And there is every reason to believe that the accepted figures for the killed Serbs are greatly underestimated.

    Putin summed up: “According to our estimates, what is happening in the Donbass today is genocide.” And in this place, we especially note that the chancellor was stupidly silent on Putin’s last statement, because there is nothing to object to. Genocide is genocide.

    But, freemason Olaf Scholz, after a joint press conference, came to his senses. And in a conversation with German journalists in Moscow, he said that the concept of “genocide”, in his opinion, cannot be applied to the situation in the Donbass. “It’s a strong word, but if you follow the Russian press, it’s not new… but it’s not true, I think it’s worth saying clearly,” he said.

    The piquancy in this case is added by what the leader of the country, which repented of the fascist genocide of tens of millions of civilians during the Great Patriotic War, says about the absence of an obvious genocide of Russians. But now everything is possible for him, because the role of Nazi Germany of 1939-1945 is now played by the entire “civilized West”. So the United States stated that they do not agree with Russia’s statements about the genocide in the Donbass. Washington, you see, is concerned that Moscow characterizes what is happening in the Donbass as genocide, and considers the use of this term in this context unreasonable. This position was stated on Wednesday at a regular briefing for journalists by the head of the press service of the US State Department, Ned Price.

    Let’s look at least at the figures of “groundlessness”, according to the West, genocide.

    The State Duma of Russia said that the death toll in the Donbass exceeded 50 thousand people. “It’s time to stop the bloodshed in the Donbass, which has been going on for the eighth year already. To date, more than 10,000 people have died and more than 50,000 have been injured in the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, according to official UN data. I often visit the Donbass and know from other sources that the death toll has long exceeded 50,000,” Kazbek Taysaev, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, said. He also voiced other figures: more than one and a half million people of the LDNR are displaced persons within Ukraine and more than two and a half million people arrived in Russia on an emergency basis in search of asylum.

    Even if we take not the actual figures (50 thousand dead), but “only” 10 thousand, as the UN still believes, what is this? Not genocide? The Kyiv regime, with the go-ahead of the West, kills Russians (!) in thousands, tens of thousands! And the millions of people forced to leave their homeland? What’s this? Not genocide? And what about the murders and torture of supporters of the Russian world in Ukraine itself, which the Kyiv junta is doing? Is this not genocide? And what about the burning alive and shooting of unarmed civilians in Odessa in 2014? Ritual action of the Kiev regime, shown to the whole world. This is not genocide?!

    From the last one, on February 17, the situation on the line of contact in the Donbass escalated sharply, the Ukrainian military opened fire on four settlements near Luhansk, and the outskirts of Donetsk were also shelled. The genocide continues before our eyes.

    And here is the message: the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on the discovery of five spontaneous mass graves, the remains of civilians of Donbass were found in the graves. Burials were found in the period from August to October 2021 in the vicinity of several cities of Donbass. The grave was also found not far from Lugansk. The experts exhumed the remains of nearly 300 civilians. According to the investigation, all of them died as a result of shelling in 2014, when the Ukrainian military led the offensive. It is specified that the bodies of women of different years were in the burial. It is also said that the intent to “destroy the inhabitants of Donbass” is obvious. Prohibited means were used to kill. What is this if not an ordinary genocide?

    The same can be said about the genocide of the Serbs who were massacred in 1999. This is genocide perpetrated by the “civilized West”. And how can he, the West, recognize the genocide of Russians and Serbs?

    “Russia must again save the whole world from Nazism!”

  12. Marek Hurt

    April 4, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    Denacification should take place primarily in Russia. Russia is a prime example that a nation should not skip certain stages of development – from serfdom to socialism to a semblance of democracy and a return to autocracy in the form of the dictator Putin. Russia has never brought anything good to any country it has conquered by war, neither development nor freedom, it has always just stolen and murdered. In light of current events, I don’t believe that Germany alone was responsible for the outbreak of WWII and I would love to see the Russian archives declassified one day, as I believe they will contain Stalin’s plans for how to militarily attack Europe at the time. Russia has only ever expanded militarily during its past. Victory to Ukraine, defeat to Russia – I greet you from Prague Czech Republic, where we hate Russia fiercely since 1968 when it came to protect us for the next 20 years from success and freedom that it does not have and cannot create on its own.

  13. Alex

    April 4, 2022 at 8:51 pm

    You, Marek, are not from the Czech Republic, but from Ivano-Frankivsk. Bandera Nazism is heard for thousands of kilometers. And the USSR also wanted to “colonize the Moon”, but the archives have not yet been declassified. Where do you only make such stupid. We, the Poles, unlike you, remember the Volyn massacre, the Lviv pogroms, etc. It was the Soviet people who then helped to destroy the Bandera Nazis. You, their ancestors, will suffer the same fate.

  14. Alexis's family died in a blinding white flash

    April 5, 2022 at 2:18 am

    Curious if princess Alexis can make a singular post without mentioning “bandaras nazis” (as if she knew what that was). Does princess alexis know her country maaather russia leader will be put to death for genocide?

    I learned today nuclear weapons are already in Romania and Poland wants nuclear weapons. Moscow will burn within 45 minutes.

    Take it like a woman, alexis. we are coming for you.

  15. Alex

    April 5, 2022 at 10:50 am

    Yes, Bandera Nazi, follow your princess, follow your fellow Nazi. And our Galicia will return to us anyway. And the execution will befall those who glorify the Nazi Bandera and other Nazis. It’s good that on our Polish territory, we can do whatever we want. If Russia takes half of Ukraine for this, we don’t give a damn about it.

  16. Alex

    April 5, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    Ah, yes. The enemy is simultaneously strong and weak. Classic propaganda

  17. Eric

    May 3, 2022 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you for the article, Mr. Sindelar.

    The Russian troll commenters are so weird. I wonder if they chose to become brainwashed fascists or if it was foisted upon them. In any case, they now seem to be willing participants supporting the belligerent party.

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