Russia-Ukraine War

Spanish prime minister calls to investigate Russia for ‘genocide’

Pedro Sanchez is one of first world leaders to use term as images from Bucha purport to show civilian bodies lying in streets after Russian withdrawal

Alyssa McMurtry   | 04.04.2022
Spanish prime minister calls to investigate Russia for ‘genocide’

OVIEDO, Spain

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday said Russia should be investigated for “war crimes and genocide.”

“Putin’s unjustified aggression has again brought war to the EU’s doorstep, the horror of the war, as we’ve seen in recent days,” he said at an economic forum in Madrid, referring to the bloody scenes of dead civilians discovered in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha after Russian troops retreated.

“We will do everything possible to ensure that those who committed these crimes do not go unpunished and can appear before the International Criminal Court to respond to these alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes, and why not say it — genocide,” Sanchez continued.

His use of the word “genocide” makes the Spanish premier stand out from other global leaders.

On Sunday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken both declined to use the term when asked on CNN, although they condemned Russia’s actions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on the other hand, insists his country is experiencing genocide and says the scenes in places like Bucha or the bombing of the maternity hospital in Mariupol prove it.

“This is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people,” he told CBS on Sunday. “We are the citizens of Ukraine and we have over 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities.”

The term genocide was coined in 1944 by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin as a response to the Holocaust as well as previous attempts at destroying particular groups of people.

The Genocide Convention, adopted by the UN, defines genocide as acts, such as killing, physically harming or deliberately inflicting brutal conditions on a group with “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

Other European leaders have also condemned Russia’s violence, though in different words.

“There are very clear clues pointing to war crimes. It’s more or less established that the Russian army is responsible (for the Bucha killings),” French President Macron told France Inter radio on Monday, saying what happened in Bucha “calls for a new round of sanctions.”

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