Volodymyr Zelensky: Ukrainian president details alleged Russian atrocities in hard-hitting speech at UN

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Zelensky’s speech came a day after he visited the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where shocking images of bodies on the streets emerged over the weekend.
On Tuesday, he recounted the aftermath of Russia’s withdrawal from the city in gruesome detail, describing entire families killed, people slit and women raped and killed in front of their children. Zelensky said Russia’s actions were no different from those of a terrorist group, except that Russia is a permanent member of the UNSC.

The Ukrainian leader then criticized the body, asking the representatives point-blank: “Where is the security that the Security Council must guarantee? It is not there, although there is a Security Council”.

Zelensky added: “It is obvious that the world’s key institution designed to combat aggression and ensure peace cannot function effectively.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to remind you of Article 1, Chapter 1 of the Charter of the United Nations. What is the purpose of our organization? Its purpose is to maintain and enforce peace. And now the Charter of the Nations is violated literally from article 1. So what are all the other articles for? He asked.

At least 1,480 civilians were killed and at least 2,195 were injured in Ukraine between the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 and April 4, a UN official told the meeting, citing figures updates from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. rights (OHCHR). The latest figures on the number of Ukrainian civilians in the conflict had “more than doubled” since the last UNSC briefing on March 17.

In Bucha, bodies strewn in the streets and in basements were found by human rights groups and documented by independent journalists. Satellite images suggest some bodies had been there since at least March 18.

In his damning speech, Zelensky said there was “not a single crime” that the Russians “won’t commit”, alleging that Russian troops had “searched for and deliberately killed anyone who served our country”.

“They shot and killed women in front of their houses when they were just trying to call someone… They killed whole families, adults and children and they tried to burn the bodies,” said Zelensky.

“I speak to you on behalf of the people who honor the memory of the deceased every day and in memory of the civilians who died, who were shot in the back of the head after being tortured,” he said. he told the UNSC. .

“Some of them were shot in the streets. Others were thrown into wells, so they died there suffering. They were killed in their apartments, their houses, blown up by grenades on the road, just for their pleasure,” he continued. “Women have been raped and killed in front of their children. Their tongues were ripped out only because the abuser didn’t hear what they wanted to hear from them.”

The Security Council session was convened to consider Ukrainian allegations of mass murder of civilians in the town of Bucha by Russian soldiers.

Zelensky also warned that the horrors uncovered in Bucha would be replicated in other cities in Ukraine. Demanding accountability, he called for all Russians who gave ‘criminal orders’ and ‘carried them out by killing our people’ to be brought to trial, similar to the Nuremberg trials that took place after World War II when the Nazis were put on trial.

UN: civilians targeted

Separately, the United Nations said Tuesday that the shocking footage of Bucha showed “every sign” of civilians being “directly targeted and directly killed”.

During a virtual press briefing, OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell said the reports from Bucha and other regions were “very disturbing developments”.

She specifically referred to the “disturbing” images of people with their hands tied behind their backs and partially naked women whose bodies have been burned as further evidence suggesting the direct targeting of individuals.

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“We talked about war crimes in the context of shelling, shelling and artillery attacks. Now they need to be investigated. But you could say there was a military context, for example, when a building was hit. It’s hard to see what the military context was of an individual lying in the street with a bullet in the head or having their body burned,” Throssell continued.

As the OHCHR is currently trying to gain access to Bucha, she had no “exact information” to share regarding the situation on the ground.

Throssell also paid tribute to the “crucial role” journalists play in documenting these scenes, mentioning the “multiple teams” involved in “reporting, analyzing and sending video footage”.

Russia’s response

Russia has repeatedly denied the alleged atrocities, despite growing evidence to suggest otherwise. Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations responded to Zelensky’s remarks, calling the accusations against the Russian military “baseless”.

“We place on your conscience the unsubstantiated accusations against the Russian military, which are not confirmed by any eyewitnesses,” Nebenzia said in translated remarks.

The ambassador recalled Zelensky’s election as Ukrainian president in 2019, saying the hope that Zelensky would end the fighting in Ukraine’s Donbass region “did not materialize”.

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Nebenzia also repeated past claims that “an enormous amount of lies about Russian soldiers and military” continues to proliferate.

Speaking directly to Zelensky, Nebenzia concluded her remarks by saying that Russia “came to … Ukraine” to bring peace, not to “conquer land”.

Nebenzia’s remarks echoed those of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier on Tuesday, who called the allegations not only “baseless, but… a tragic spectacle well staged” and “of a forgery in an attempt to denigrate the Russian military”.

CNN’s Niamh Kennedy, Laura Ly and Anna Chernova contributed to this report.

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