Russia is accused of committing genocide in Ukraine and supporting the separatist forces that are fighting against Ukrainian military. However, Russia denies these claims. This question has been brought up by recent developments such as Russia seizing Crimea from Ukraine and annexing it into their own country while also ransacking pro-Ukrainian groups based there.
Getty Images/AFP/Ronaldo Schemidt On April 1, 2022, a guy stands at a street in Irpin, near Kyiv, looking at burning vehicles during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is on the verge of committing genocide in Ukraine. There’s reason to suspect it’s already happening as proof of war crimes surfaces.
“Russian soldiers have committed war crimes in Ukraine,” according to a statement released by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 23, 2022. Blinken used the destruction of “apartment complexes, schools, hospitals, key infrastructure” and a maternity facility in the besieged city of Mariupol marked with the Russian term for children as proof for his claim.
According to the United Nations, Russia has killed at least 1,189 civilians and injured 1,901 more Ukrainians since beginning its campaign on Ukraine in February 2022. The true death toll is very certainly substantially higher.
Under international law, such assaults on people during a fight are considered war crimes.
However, war crimes are often committed in conjunction with other atrocity crimes, such as ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Indeed, there is proof that Russia has committed crimes against humanity or carried out massive strikes on the civilian population of Ukraine. Killings, enforced disappearances, rape, and torture are examples of such assaults.
These include the alleged mass deportations of Ukrainians into Russia by the Russian government in eastern Ukraine.
Some observers fear that the violence might devolve into genocide, especially in light of Russian propaganda and the physical devastation of Mariupol and other cities.
Officials in Ukraine allege that genocide has already started. “The aerial attack of a children’s hospital is the final indication that genocide of Ukrainians is taking place,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy remarked on March 9, 2022.
Other scholars disagree, claiming that the Russian assault falls short of the legal definition of genocide.
However, given the magnitude of Russian assault in Ukraine, genocide threats must be taken seriously.
Frameworks for measuring the danger of genocide in such hazardous contexts have been established in the subject of genocide studies, in which I have long worked. These instruments, including one employed by the United Nations, show that Ukraine is in grave danger of genocide.
Precedent in History
GettyOn March 7, 2022, people assist an old lady in a wheelchair as they escape the city of Irpin, west of Kyiv.
“Acts performed with the goal to eliminate, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group” are defined as genocide.
These activities include not only murdering individuals, but also attempting to destroy the target group by inflicting “severe physical or mental injury,” imposing harsh “life circumstances,” preventing births, and “forcibly transferring” children to another group.
A history of enormous human rights abuses and atrocity crimes, including genocide, is one predictor of genocide.
Russia has a lengthy history of committing mass atrocities against Ukrainians and other ethnic communities.
From 1932 to 1933, the Soviet Union pursued land policies that resulted in a food scarcity and famine, killing millions of Ukrainians. This is known as the Holodomor, which is a Ukrainian term that means “hunger death.”
Forced deportation of national and ethnic groups, as well as major political purges, were other Soviet horrors.
Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia unleashed a wave of violence against people in Chechnya, Georgia, and Syria. In 1995, it bombed and annihilated Grozny, and in 2016, it devastated Aleppo.
Upheaval in politics
Getty Images/Daily Express/Hulton Archive During the human-caused Holodomor famine in Ukraine in 1934, two youngsters with a bundle of potatoes they discovered.
Genocide and atrocity crimes are also strongly correlated with Upheaval in politics, especially war. Such upheaval destabilizes a society and makes it less secure – especially for vulnerable groups of people who may be blamed for the political or economic instability.
Genocide has occurred throughout global wars, as the Armenian genocide in World War I and the Holocaust in World War II demonstrate.
There are other genocides linked to imperial conquest and invasion, such as the annihilation of Indigenous peoples in North America.
China and Cambodia, for example, have carried out social engineering schemes that resulted in genocide.
Russia has experienced a number of Upheaval in politicss, including a current economic crisis. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the sort of armed conflict often associated with atrocity crimes.
Ideology & Demonization
Propaganda and rhetoric that devalues and demonizes target communities are used to justify genocide. From European colonial caricatures of Indigenous “brutes” and “savages” to Nazi depictions of Jews as vermin, there are many historical instances.
This kind of dehumanizing rhetoric is being used by Russia to legitimize its invasion of Ukraine. To begin with, Russia portrays its brutality as essential in order to “denazify” Ukraine. For example, Russian President Vladimir Putin has referred to Ukraine’s government as a far-right “band of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”
Second, Putin has stated that Ukrainian nationality is fictitious, and that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people – one country, in reality,” according to history.
Recognizing the Threat
Proving genocidal intent, especially in a court of law, is difficult. This is obvious in contemporary disputes regarding whether Myanmar committed genocide against the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority population, including an ongoing judicial case at the International Court of Justice.
However, patterns of violence commensurate with the legal definition of genocide may be deduced.[There’s a lot of differing viewpoints out there.] We provide research-based information and analysis. [For more information, see The Conversation’s Politics Weekly.]
Is it true that Russia has committed genocide?
Russia has apparently forcefully deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, including children, to Russia, where they have been targeted and slaughtered. A maternity hospital has been attacked.
In sections of Ukraine, Russia has also produced “dangerous living circumstances.” It has cut off power and water supplies, robbed Ukrainians of food and humanitarian help, and displaced over 10 million people both within and outside the country.
Russia is attempting to conquer and Russify Donbas and other portions of eastern Ukraine, where a “imaginary” Ukrainian identity will be eradicated if Putin’s words are accepted at face value.
In Ukraine, there is a substantial possibility that Russia will commit genocide. It’s plausible that a genocide is already under progress.
By Alexander Hinton, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University – Newark and Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights
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