The international community cannot allow the essential foundations of a group with distinct national origin to be attacked with the intent to destroy it, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin has said.
In an article, written exclusively for Global Insight, Kostin explained why what the world is witnessing in Ukraine should be treated as genocide, Ukrinform reports.
According to Kostin, for nine months, the world has witnessed the biggest military invasion of one UN Member State by another since the Second World War.
“Barbaric aggression by the Russian Federation against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine is taking place through ruthless attacks on cities, towns and villages full of civilians, in violation of the rules and principles of laws of war. It does not come as a surprise that the term ‘genocide’, together with ‘war crimes’ and a ‘crime of aggression’, is commonly and continually used in relation to the crimes committed in Ukraine by Russian armed forces and their proxies,” the prosecutor general said.
He added that while the use of the term ‘genocide’ can be highly political and is often invoked in situations of mass killing, it also has a very specific meaning that sets it apart from other core international crimes.
“This is the existence of a special intent ‘to destroy national, ethnic, racial or religious groups in whole or in part as such’. This means that not every crime – even the most heinous – automatically amounts to genocide. This genocidal intent also makes proving this crime particularly challenging for law enforcement. At the same time, genocide does not refer only to mass atrocities or causing of ‘serious bodily or mental harm’. Creating ‘conditions of life’ that assist in the destruction of the above-defined protected groups or the forcible transferring of children from one group of people to another, if done with the special intent of destruction of this group, could also be a characteristic of the crime of genocide,” Kostin said.
He noted that the crimes committed in Ukraine are systematic and widespread, which are patterns particular to genocide.
According to him, Russia’s actions revive the worst memories of the last century by mocking international law and undermining the existing rules-based order.
“The international community cannot allow the essential foundations of a group with distinct national origin to be attacked with the intent to destroy it, and for its history and culture to be obliterated. If this is allowed, then the Genocide Convention has failed to achieve its objective. This is the declared objective of the Kremlin regarding Ukraine. Not acknowledging the fact does not make it disappear, it just gives time and space for evil to strike again, and harder. This must not be permitted,” Kostin said.