Moscow’s rhetoric incites the destruction of the Ukrainian national group, and legitimizes the abuses (rapes, mass murders, etc.) committed by Russian soldiers, according to the experts interviewed.
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This is an accusation already repeatedly made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since the start of the Russian invasion: Russia would be guilty of “genocide”. The first independent report (in English) on this very sensitive issue has just been published by the American think tank New Lines Institute and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights on Friday 27 May. And he is categorical: “There is undoubtedly a very serious risk of genocide”.
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The organizations claim that “Russia is responsible for public and direct incitement to commit genocide”. By denying the very existence of a Ukrainian nation, portraying Ukrainians as “Nazis” and by rewarding soldiers guilty of war crimes, Moscow “allows soldiers to commit, and the Russian public to condone, future atrocities”.
This rhetoric then serves to legitimize actions that constitute “a pattern of atrocities from which it is possible to deduce an intention to destroy the Ukrainian national group in part”, according to the report. The text cites the mass murders in areas occupied by Russia such as Boutcha, deliberate attacks on shelters and hospitals, the use of rape as a weapon of warand forced displacement of Ukrainians as so many elements demonstrating the Russian will to destroy a specific group, which is a criterion for defining genocide.
The organizations do not go so far as to accuse Moscow directly of genocide, but they come close, pointing out that Russia has repeatedly violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of which it is a member. They also recall that all States have a duty to prevent genocide, even outside their borders, if the risk is proven.