Socialist International condemns war crimes in Ukraine

4 April 2022

The Socialist International unreservedly condemns the massacre of civilians by Russian forces in Ukraine, the true scale of which was devastatingly laid bare over the last two days in the commuter town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv. Since the Russian retreat from areas around Kyiv, concrete evidence has emerged of war crimes committed by invading forces during their advance on, occupation of and retreat from those areas. In Bucha, the bodies of unarmed Ukrainian civilians have been found in mass graves and in the streets, some with their hands bound, close gunshot wounds and evidence of torture. There can be no question that the most heinous crimes against humanity have been committed by the occupiers in Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine.

Our entire International grieves with those who have lost loved ones during the Russian invasion. The most recent report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) records more than 1,400 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the start of the invasion, with the true total believed to be considerably higher. The majority of the casualties accounted for in the report were caused by missile and air strikes and shelling, and it does not include the deaths uncovered in Bucha over the weekend or numerous reported civilian casualties in locations where intense hostilities are ongoing. These are dark moments for humanity, and concrete and united action is needed as a matter of utmost urgency to prevent further atrocities and loss of life.

Tragically, the evidence of war crimes in Ukraine is by no means limited to the areas around Kyiv. Russian forces have repeatedly and systematically directed attacks against civilian populations, using explosive weapons with a high impact area against civilian targets, including the heartless bombing of a maternity hospital, theatre and art school in Mariupol in recent weeks. Ukrainians in occupied areas have been forcibly relocated to Russia and harrowing reports have come of rape and sexual violence against women and girls in areas under Russian control. Each of these acts constitutes a war crime.

There are no words strong enough to adequately condemn the actions of those who torture, rape and murder innocent and defenceless civilians. Each and every one of these crimes must be independently investigated, with those responsible held accountable and brought to justice. This accountability extends to those in the military chain of command who ordered and oversaw these actions; the ultimate responsibility for the death, destruction and suffering since the start of the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine lies with President Putin, who has under false pretences launched this unprovoked attack on a neighbouring country.

The Socialist International and its members have been deeply moved by the tragic and avoidable suffering of the Ukrainian people and once more offer their utmost sympathy and solidarity to all those who have suffered as a result of this illegal war. The international community must continue to stand firm against this criminal aggression and pursue all available means to bring an end to the fighting and get humanitarian assistance to those who are in truly desperate need.