What Russia is doing today is not just a war of aggression. This is the genocide of the Ukrainian people. Not metaphorically but literally.
The term «genocide» was introduced by the UN in the mid-twentieth century to describe the most heinous crimes for which there is no name. The Holocaust — the extermination of Jews by the Nazis, or the genocide of Armenians in Turkey. Or — in the second half of the last century — the genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda.
The author of this term was international lawyer Rafal Lemkin, who was describing the actions of the USSR in Ukraine as «a classic example of a Soviet genocide.»
According to Lemkin, its key components were repression of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, the destruction of the Ukrainian church, the mass murder of peasants during the Holodomor, and finally the deportation of Ukrainians and the subsequent settlement of Ukrainian lands by other nationalities.
Although the Soviet plan, unlike the «final solution of the Jewish question» by the Nazis, did not provide for the physical extermination of all Ukrainians, the consequence was as Lemkin said that Ukraine would perish as if all Ukrainians had been killed because it will lose that part of its people who preserved and developed its culture, beliefs, its unifying ideas which paved its way and gave it a soul — that is — made it a nation and not just a population.
Lemkin’s work, addressed as the «Soviet Genocide in Ukraine» was delivered in New York City on the twentieth anniversary of the Holodomor and is now on Putin’s Russia’s «Federal list of extremist materials.»
The Russian authorities have banned this text in order to hide the truth not only about the past but also about any future crimes.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocides as any of the five acts aimed at the total or partial destruction of a national, racial or religious group:
- Killing members of this group;
- Inflicting severe bodily or mental injuries upon them;
- Creating living conditions designed for its complete or partial destruction;
- Actions designed to prevent the birth of children in the group;
- Forcible transfer of children from this group to another group;
All this is being done by Russia against the Ukrainian people. Putin declared that Ukraine was «completely created by Russia,» and that «there is no Ukraine.»
This is nothing but an endorsement of the complete destruction of our nation and state.
Putin’s «denazification» means the physical elimination of all those who do not recognize Ukraine as being a part of Russia.
And the so-called «demilitarization» involves the destruction of not only the Ukrainian army, but also of the Ukrainian state and all its institutions.
Mass killings, destruction and terror are by no means «abuses of the perpetrators» or a side effect of hostilities. This is the main task of the Russian invasion. These are planned actions.
The Russians are deliberately erasing Ukrainian cities, factories and infrastructure from the face of the earth. They deliberately target hospitals, maternity wards, schools, and bomb shelters. They aim at medics, journalists and rescuers. They deliberately cut off cities from heat, electricity, water, food, and medicine.
Civilians trying to escape are being shot and people are doomed to starvation.
They drop bombs on nuclear power plants and chemical plants to cause a man-made disaster.
Seize and destroy agricultural machinery.
Food and fuel depots are being destroyed across the country to deprive Ukrainians of their livelihood.
The occupiers arrest, torture and shoot active citizens, intellectuals and priests. Later, we will be able to assess the full scale of the terror in the areas temporarily occupied by the Russians. Especially in small towns and villages. But even according to the evidence we already have, the atrocities of the occupiers are appalling.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have already been deported to Russia against their will, including thousands of children. Millions of people are forced to flee their homes, fleeing the horde.
Numerous manifestations that directly correspond to the crime of genocide have been recorded and documented.
The invaders confiscate Ukrainian books from libraries and apartments and destroy them, just as the Nazis did. They deliberately destroy or plunder museum collections, cultural works and architectural monuments. The Ukrainian language in education and all public spheres are being replaced by Russian, and the history of Ukraine is being banned.
As US historian Timothy Snyder said in a recent article in the Washington Post, Russia’s victory can only mean a country so devastated by stateless remnants has no choice but to acknowledge that they belong to a foreign state and submit to Russian policing, control and re-education forever, and accept that their children be raised as Russians without any of the freedoms they knew as Ukrainians.
The Ukrainian journalist Andriy Harasym, who describes the mechanisms of Russian genocide in detail on texty.org.ua, states that to make concessions to Russia is like going into a gas chamber voluntarily. Because any concessions for the Russians is not a goal, but are only tools to achieve their main goal — the destruction of Ukraine as a state, and Ukrainians as a nation.
Ukrainians survived the Soviet genocide. The memory of it made us stronger and smarter.
We understand that only uncompromising preservation and protection of an independent state can save Ukrainians from destruction.
We are united as never before, and so we will win.
And Putin will answer for the crime of genocide against the Ukrainians in front of the whole world.