One year on from Bucha, a call for accountability
One year ago, the world was shocked to discover the death toll and immense scale of destruction in the Ukrainian town of Bucha in the Kyiv region.
It was March 31, 2022, when Russian troops were expelled from Bucha. Ukrainian defenders entered the town to find dozens of dead civilians bearing signs of torture and extremely violent treatment.
A bloody trail resulting from the Russian occupation stretched from one liberated settlement to another. The people in Irpin, Hostomel, Borodyanka and many others had lived through a nightmare.
Looting, torture, rape and the execution of the civilian population — a cruel reality that is so difficult to comprehend in the modern civilized world. Bucha, as the worst affected area, became a symbol of Russian crimes on an unprecedented scale.
The appalling images and video footage showing traces of bloody aggression were scattered around the world, proving Russia’s unlimited cruelty and willingness to commit crimes and cause pain, demonstrating the very essence of the so-called “Russian world.”
The crime scene has been extensively visited by top political leaders from countries around the world. Additionally, world media outlets have been granted full access in order to witness first-hand the human rights violations and to convey to every corner of the world information about the consequences of the Russian occupation.
Ukraine has taken all necessary measures to investigate the circumstances of the crimes that were committed. The file is under the meticulous consideration of the International Criminal Court and a number of countries concerned.
However, there is a great deal of evidence and no one has a shred of doubt: The offenses were carried out by the Russian military, intentionally targeting peaceful Ukrainian civilians and disregarding the basic principles of humanitarian law.
All of these war crimes and crimes against humanity were the result of the “mother of all crimes” — the crime of aggression. Indeed, if the war of aggression had not been started by the Russian Federation, there would not have been subsequent crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine.
Looting, torture, rape and the execution of the civilian population — a cruel reality that is so difficult to comprehend in the modern civilized world.
We have to follow the path that will allow us to eradicate the root cause of all atrocities being committed on our land. This path leads us to the only feasible option — the establishment of a special tribunal.
It is worth mentioning that the Ukraine-presented Peace Formula, which was endorsed by a solid majority of states during the UN General Assembly on Feb. 23, includes a comprehensive pillar titled “restoration of justice.”
It addresses the issue of the establishment of a special international tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine, as well as additional measures to ensure the accountability of Russia.
Guided by the necessity of bringing the Russian political and military leadership to justice, Ukraine initiated the Bucha summit, which will be held on March 31. The event shall be finalized with a Bucha declaration.
It is our honor to extend to Saudi Arabia an invitation to join the signatories of the final document clearly demonstrating empathy and solidarity with the Ukrainian nation.
When mankind undergoes such dreadful challenges, it always arrives at one conclusion: “Never again.”
Unfortunately, history shows that such cases have a tendency to repeat. For this reason, Ukrainian efforts are currently aimed at tackling the root cause of the phenomenon to resolve the issue once and for all.
Hence, shocked by the tragic example of Bucha, we reinforce and re-emphasize our demand for accountability and justice for those who perpetrated war crimes in Ukraine in March 2022 and continue to do so today.
- Anatolii Petrenko is the ambassador of Ukraine to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.