Ukrainian Council of Churches: Russian acts around Kiev are genocidal


Eastern Europe


Priests at a mass grave in Bucha. Photo AFP, Ronaldo Schemidt

Russia is guilty of genocide. That is the message the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations (AUCCRO) conveys in an official statement.

Christian Megaportal inVictory published the statement, in which the AUCCRO accused the Russian troops of “inhumane cruelty committed against innocent civilians in the captured cities of the Kyiv region.”

The Church Council does not doubt that the Russian war crimes classify as genocide. It speaks about the “facts of the genocide of the Ukrainian people.” The statement, furthermore, reads that the Russian soldiers did not only destroy “beautiful new residential areas, playgrounds, hospitals and other social institutions” but also led to the “total destruction of the civilian population of this region.” The Church Council refers to the execution of several Ukrainian civilians found on the street, collective rape of Ukrainian women and torture of “thousands of innocent Ukrainians.”

It calls these acts “convincing arguments” in favour of “comprehensive sanctions without exceptions against the Russian economy in all sectors. In addition, it calls on world leaders to “provide Ukraine with necessary weapons to defeat Russia as a terrorist state” and acknowledge that the Russian invasion is genocidal. “Condemn the ideology of the Russian world as justifying the genocide of peoples and the destruction of entire states.”

Caution in classifying Russian acts as genocidal

International leaders, however, are not quick to classify the Russian acts as genocidal. Doing so, would have crucial implications for international involvement in the conflict. If war crimes are classified as genocidal according to the legal definition of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, countries would be burdened with the moral responsibility to act against them. This could lead to an international conflict.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague states that the “crime of genocide is characterised by the specific intent to destroy in whole or in part a specific group of people by killing its members or by other means.”

Legal experts also warn that it is yet too early to say whether genocide has taken place in Ukraine. Mendez, a professor of human rights law at the American University in Washington DC said to Aljazeera that it is very important not to presume genocide. “Because that makes it a political game: “You are the genocidaire and we are the good guys.”” According to Mendez, the term genocide can be easily misused “just to delegitimise the enemy.”



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.