Human rights experts accuse Russia of genocide in Ukraine

A group of 33 legal and genocide experts Friday released a report accusing Russia of incitement to genocide in Ukraine and calling on the international community to prevent a genocide from occurring. The report, released by the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, used open-source evidence to assert that Russia has breached the UN Genocide Convention, a treaty to which Russia and Ukraine are both parties.

The report is broken down into sections detailing Russian incitement to genocide, genocidal intent and a “genocidal pattern of destruction targeting Ukrainians.” Among other evidence, the authors cite Russia’s denial of “the legitimacy of a distinct Ukrainian identity to the Russian public,” efforts to label Ukrainians as “Nazis” and the many allegations of war crimes against civilians carried out by Russian soldiers. The authors’ note that Russia’s 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade was publicly celebrated in Russia after being accused of mass killings in Bucha, Ukraine.

The authors further note that every country party to the Genocide Convention has a legal obligation to prevent genocide in Ukraine, saying:

[A]ll States must employ all means reasonably available to influence Russian leaders publicly and privately to take action to protect vulnerable Ukrainian civilians from the imminent risk of genocide through, among other things, securing guarantees for safe humanitarian zones and corridors, access to medical care and basic necessities, and accountability processes for atrocity crimes committed by Russian soldiers.

Russia has been accused of numerous war crimes against Ukranian civilians. On Thursday two Russian soldiers pled guilty to the unlawful shelling of residences in Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast, and on Tuesday, a Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an unarmed civilian in Sumy Oblast. On May 7, Amnesty International released a report which detailed their findings of Russian war crimes near Kyiv.

The Genocide Convention has been a point of contention since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) saying that Russian claims of genocide in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts were illegitimate and that Russia should be obligated to stop their invasion. The ICJ later ruled in March that Russia must stop its invasion of Ukraine, but Russia failed to follow the court’s order.