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Editor’s Comment: This story contains descriptions of violence that some may find disturbing.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a passionate speech to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, urging delegates not to allow Russia’s mainland to continue to be punished for what it described as “the most horrific war crimes” of World War II.
His remarks come a day after he visited the city of Bucha, where bodies were found in the streets and basements after the evacuation of Russian troops. Zelenskyy described the alleged atrocities there, saying the world was likely to see similar horrors in other cities still under Russian occupation – as well as major consequences such as food insecurity and political chaos far beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Zelenskyy urged the Security Council to implement internal reforms to hold Russia – and, as he put it, other war criminals – accountable, and urged it to remove Russia as a member “so that it can not prevent decisions on … his own war. ” If not, he said, it should “dissolve” itself.
Zelenskyy urged the council to take immediate action to stop Russia’s invasion and called for a war crimes tribunal – such as the Nuremberg Trials after World War II – to hold Russia accountable.
He also described the role that Ukraine could play in this process and said that it had a “moral right” to propose reforms to the world security system as it has helped people from other conflict-torn countries, such as Afghanistan, in their time. need.
Zelenskyy suggested convening an international conference to discuss how to pursue UN goals, such as securing border recognition. He also suggested opening a “preventive” UN office in Kyiv that would focus on promoting peace.
“We must do everything in our power to provide the effective UN with the capacity to respond to the security challenges of the next generation, thus ensuring peace, preventing aggression and forcing aggressors to bring peace,” he said at one point.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, later reiterated Russia’s claims without proof that Ukraine had set the scene in Bucha, saying that civilians were allowed to move freely, use their mobile phones and leave the town while under Russian rule. He accused Western nations of “inciting anti-Russian hysteria” by portraying Russian troops as murderers and rapists, which he called “an incredibly low blow”.
Zelenskyy doubts the council’s ability to hold Russia accountable
It is difficult for the Security Council – the United Nations’ most powerful body – to hold Russia accountable for its war in Ukraine because it has a veto. Russia has downplayed its goal in the country, dismissing war crimes allegations as false and has voted against many resolutions that would withdraw its forces.
Zelenskyy warned that if Russia were not punished, countries would rely on their own weapons for security reasons, rather than international law and institutions.
He reminded his audience that the initial chapter of the United Nations Charter aims to maintain peace and then said that it had been violated “literally from Article 1”.
“Where is the security that the Security Council was supposed to ensure?” asked Zelenskyy, pointing to general criticisms of the UN’s ability to make member states fulfill the promise of Article 1 of the UN Charter on Peace. Zelenskyy also pointed out that the UN was unlikely to take action, given that Russia has a permanent seat on the Security Council and its veto power.
“Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to close the UN? Do you think that the time for international order has passed?” he asked.
If the answer is no, he said, then immediate action must be taken to rebuild the United Nations Charter and punish Russia.
He pointed to Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen and said that if such atrocities had been punished earlier and not allowed to drag on for a long time, there might not be a war in Ukraine now.
So how can the world react now? Zelenskyy said that anyone in the Russian military who gives or enforces criminal orders should be brought to justice and brought to justice.
He also urged the council to remove Russia “as an aggressor and a source of war” so that it can not prevent a response to its own acts of violence.
“If there is no option and no option, then the next option would be: dissolve yourself completely,” Zelenskyy added.
Zelenskyy says Bucha is “just one example”
Zelenskyy also said that it was not a single crime that Russian forces “will not commit”. He compared their actions to those of terrorist groups such as ISIS, but the difference is that Russia sits on the Security Council.
Describing the events in Bucha, near Kyiv, he accused Russian troops of killing entire families and trying to burn their bodies, torture people, shoot them in the streets, throw people into wells, kill them in their homes and use tanks to crush cars with. civilians inside “just for fun.”
In even more graphic detail, he described them cutting off limbs, cutting necks, raping and killing women in front of their children and pulling out people’s tongues “only because the attacker did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.”
Zelenskyy said Russia needed the wealth of Ukraine and its people, saying it had deported hundreds of thousands of citizens to Russia, abducted children and aimed at turning Ukraine “into silent slaves”. He also claimed that the Russian military was publicly plundering cities and villages it had occupied and stealing everything from food supplies to “gold-eared gold-eared locks”.
Zelenskyy said the scenes in Bucha were “unfortunately just one example of what the occupiers have been doing in our country for the past 41 days.” NPR has not independently confirmed the news.
Russia has denied the allegations, accusing Ukraine of staging the killings in Bucha. Zelenskyy said that such denials are part of a classical method of saying that there are different stories and that it is impossible to find out what the truth is.
“But it’s 2022 now,” he said. “We have conclusive evidence, satellite images, we can carry out full and transparent research.
He called for such a study, as well as for maximum access to journalists, cooperation between international organizations and the involvement of the International Criminal Court, of which neither Russia nor Ukraine is a member.
“Geography can be different or varied, but cruelty is the same, crime is the same and responsibility must be inevitable,” he said.
Versions of this story originally appeared in Morning Edition live blog.