Raging against Russia in the face of mounting evidence of atrocities, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered one of his strongest denunciations of the invasion on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) in a live video address to the UN Security Council. United Nations, calling Russians war criminals who he said had killed families, raped women in front of their children, looted homes and left his country in ruins, “filled with mass graves”.
In his speech – a day after visiting Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, the capital, where images have surfaced of numerous bodies of civilians whom Zelensky said were killed by retreating Russian troops – the Ukrainian president said that the Security Council was useless if it could not find a way to hold the perpetrators to account.
“There is not a single crime they are not committing there,” Zelensky said of the dead Russian troops.
“Now the world can see what the Russian military did to Bucha, but the world has yet to see what they did to other parts of our country,” Zelensky said.
“Where is the security that the Security Council must guarantee? He asked. “That is not here.”
Much of his speech was laced with frustration with the United Nations for failing to avert war by failing to apply the basic principles of the organization’s founding charter.
“Show how we can reform and work for peace,” Zelensky implored the council members. Otherwise, he says, “dissolve altogether, if there is nothing you can do apart from conversation”.
Zelensky also called for the creation of a tribunal that would prosecute Russians he believed were responsible for the atrocities, including Moscow leaders, drawing an analogy to the Nuremberg tribunal that tried Nazi war criminals.
The Kremlin has denied responsibility for civilian atrocities in Bucha or elsewhere in Ukraine and said photographs and visual evidence of the execution-style killings in the northern suburbs are fabrications.
An analysis of satellite images by The New York Times refutes Russian claims that the killing of civilians in Bucha occurred after its soldiers left the town.
“They deliberately killed anyone,” Zelensky said. “They killed whole families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies.”
Some victims in Bucha were “killed by bullets in the back of the head”, he said, while “some were shot in the street, others thrown into wells”.
It was Zelensky’s first speech to the Security Council since the invasion more than a month ago, and he showed no sign of wanting to negotiate with Russia. Rather, he described the United Nations as a helpless and outdated organization that needed to purge Russia of the veto power it wields in the council.
Afterwards, the council viewed a short video provided by the Ukrainian government that showed footage of what appeared to be charred, rotting and slaughtered bodies in several Ukrainian cities.