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Eugene Czolij: Bucha is a wake-up call for more effective measures to support Ukraine

April 6, 2022 3:47 amby Eugene Czolij
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Ukrainian servicemen investigate destroyed Russian military machinery on the street of Bucha, near Kyiv, on April 4, 2022. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)

Images of dead civilians lying on the streets of Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, with their hands tied behind their backs shocked the international community and shamed Putin’s apologists, including all those who had felt sympathy for the “young demoralized Russian soldiers” – as these atrocities were committed by Russian soldiers.

Russia’s unprovoked genocidal war against Ukraine exposed the Russian leadership and army, revealing them for what they are, namely war criminals. Indeed, only war criminals indulge in revolting atrocities such as killing, raping and torturing the civilian population, shelling a nuclear power plant, destroying and damaging civil infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, and residential buildings.

The atrocities committed in Bucha, a city just liberated from Russian occupation, demonstrate the depths of human evil. As requested by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Criminal Court and international organizations should send their missions to Bucha and other liberated cities and towns of the Kyiv region to collect all evidence of Russian war crimes in cooperation with Ukrainian law enforcement agencies.

Bucha has also sent a strident call for the international community to react in a much more meaningful way. Russian authorities have already conceded that the Ukrainian army has stopped Russian forces from achieving their short-term goals of invading Kyiv, purging Ukraine’s governing authorities and taking full control of Ukraine.

However, the realization that Russia’s initial strategic geopolitical plan was not achievable in a conventional war against an incredibly strong Ukrainian army has driven the Russian army to savagely target civilians in order to force Ukraine into submission.

The international community must therefore effectively and immediately help Ukraine regain control of its territorial integrity and prevent further hideous war crimes against its civilian population, including children.

NATO and its member countries must now supply Ukraine with the necessary weapons to impose a no-fly zone over Ukrainian airspace and push Russian forces out of Ukraine, including fighter jets, drones, tanks, air defense systems, anti-ship missile systems, anti-tank missile systems and chemical personal protective equipment.

Russia, in turn, must be fully isolated and further crippled by additional severe sanctions, including a total ban on the imports of Russian oil, gas and coal, the closure of all ports to Russian ships and goods, and the exclusion of all Russian banks from SWIFT.

Indeed, since Russia has chosen to be a pariah, the international community must treat it as such until Russia has indemnified Ukraine for all the damages it caused and fully abides by the fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

Ukraine’s ability to put an end to Russia’s imperialist ambitions is the only guarantee that no EU city will be subjected to the horrors of Bucha. Ultimately, history will not be kind to those who had the means to prevent the atrocities of another Bucha but were lacking the political will to do so. Indeed, such conduct will be equated to neutrality, and in the words of renowned Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations
of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Eugene Czolij
Author:  Eugene Czolij

Eugene Czolij is president of the Ukraine-2050 nongovernmental organization and served as president of the Ukrainian World Congress from 2008-2018. Ukraine-2050 was established to help implement within one generation – by 2050 – strategies for the sustainable development of Ukraine as a fully independent, territorially integral, democratic, reformed and economically competitive European state.