Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused the Russian military of indiscriminately killing civilians “for their own pleasure” in an emotional address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, before questioning the Security Council’s mandate.
Zelensky’s speech came the day after he visited the Kiev suburb of Bucha, where shocking images of bodies appeared on the streets over the weekend.
On Tuesday, he recounted the aftermath of Russia’s retreat from the city in gruesome detail, describing entire families killed, people with slit throats, and women raped and killed in front of their children. Zelensky said that Russia’s actions are no different from those of a terrorist group, except that Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
The Ukrainian leader then criticized the body, asking representatives: “Where is the security that must be guaranteed by the Security Council? He is not there, although there is a Security Council. ”
Zelensky added: “Obviously, the key institution of the world, designed to combat aggression and ensure peace, cannot work effectively.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to remind you of Article 1, Section 1 of the UN Charter. What is the purpose of our organization? Its goal is to maintain and monitor the preservation of peace. And now the UN Charter is being violated literally starting with Article 1. So what is the meaning of all the other articles? ” He asked.
At least 1,480 civilians have been killed and at least 2,195 wounded in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24 and April 4, a UN spokesman said at a meeting, citing updated data from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Rights (OHCHR). The latest figures on the number of Ukrainian civilians in the conflict “more than doubled” after the last briefing in the Security Council on March 17.
In Bucha, bodies scattered in the streets and basements were found by human rights organizations and documented by independent journalists. Satellite images show that some bodies have been there since at least March 18th.
In his condemnation speech, Zelensky said there was “no crime” that the Russians “would not have committed”, claiming that Russian troops “sought and purposefully killed all those who served our country.”
“They shot and killed women near their homes when they were just trying to call someone … They killed whole families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies,” Zelensky said.
“I am addressing you on behalf of the people who commemorate the victims every day and in memory of the civilians who died and were shot in the back of the head after being tortured,” he told the Security Council. .
“Some of them were shot in the streets. Others were thrown into wells, so they died there in agony. They were killed in their apartments and houses and blown up with grenades. Civilians were crushed by tanks as they sat in their cars in the middle of the road, just for fun, ”he continued. “Women were raped and killed in front of their children. Their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them. ”
Zelensky also warned that the horrors found in Bucha would be repeated in other cities of Ukraine. Demanding prosecution, he called for the trial of all Russians who gave “criminal orders” and “carried them out by killing our people,” similar to the Nuremberg Trials that took place after World War II, when the Nazis were brought to justice.
Separately, the United Nations said on Tuesday that the shocking images from Bucha show “all indications” that civilians were “directly targeted and directly killed.”
At a virtual press briefing, OHCHR spokeswoman Liz Trossel said the reports from Bucha and other areas were “very disturbing.”
She specifically referred to “disturbing” images of people with their hands tied behind their backs and partially naked women whose bodies had been burned as additional evidence to suggest a direct attack on individuals.
“We talked about war crimes in the context of shelling, bombing and artillery attacks. Now they need to be investigated. But you can argue that there was a military context, for example, in the incident. It is difficult to understand the military context of a man lying on the street with a bullet in his head or burnt bodies, ”Trossel continued.
As OHCHR is currently trying to gain access to Bucha, it did not have “accurate information” that it could share about the situation on the ground.
Trossel also paid tribute to the “crucial role” that journalists play in documenting these scenes, mentioning “several teams” involved in “reporting, analyzing and sending videos.”
Russia has repeatedly denied the alleged atrocities, despite growing evidence to the contrary. Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya responded to Zelensky’s remarks, calling the accusations against the Russian military “unfounded.”
“We place unfounded accusations against the Russian military on your conscience, which are not confirmed by any eyewitnesses,” Nebenzia said in translation.
The ambassador reminded of Zelensky’s election to the presidency of Ukraine in 2019, saying that hopes that Zelensky would stop fighting in the Donbass of Ukraine “did not come true.”
Nebenzia also reiterated past statements that “a huge number of lies about Russian soldiers and soldiers” continue to spread.
Addressing Zelensky directly, Nebenzia concluded his remarks by saying that Russia “came to … Ukraine” to bring peace, not “conquer lands.”
Nebenz’s words echoed those of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier Tuesday, who called the allegations not only “baseless but … a well-staged tragic show” and “a forgery to try to denigrate the Russian army.”