War crimes six months later, writes Askold Lozynskj

Much has been written about the atrocities at Irpin and Bucha, two cities in the Kyiv region of Ukraine, and what was discovered there after the Russian defeat and withdrawal in March of this year. Photos from Bucha corpses of civilians shot execution style with their hands and feet bound appeared on global networks and screens.

Back in March, Ukraine and more than forty other states appealed to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate these events as war crimes. The ICC continues to conduct its investigation. Obviously, the human remains have been interred, but very telling real evidence remain in the ruins.

The cities have returned to some degree of normalcy, but with much less vibrancy, and lasting very vivid signs of war crimes remain. There are far fewer residents in Irpin, a city of over sixty thousand prior to the war. People are slowly rebuilding their places of residence, often places where they had been born.

In general, war crimes are defined as a deliberate gross violation of the laws and customs of war. This is a collective concept in international law that unites a group of serious violations of the rules of hostilities ("law of war") and the norms and principles of international humanitarian law, committed deliberately or due to gross negligence.

In one of the many local residential complexes in Irpin, there remain ruins of residential buildings, as well as the bullet ridden motor vehicles of former residents.

There is a white car with Donetsk license plates parked outside in a residential complex, probably belonging to refugees from Donetsk. The windows are shattered, the basic structure is irreparably broken.

However, what is most interesting is that on both sides, right and left, you can see at least several hundred holes through which bullets had passed. The car is an ordinary passenger car and fragile, without any armored equipment or plating, such as only the civilian population would use. Clearly the enemy shot many times at the vehicle or the passengers therein.

The residential complex is called Irpinski Lipky. The buildings are almost totally destroyed by heavy artillery. Two inscriptions hang on the complex. One with a request in Ukrainian: The co-owners of this house really need help to rebuild. The second inscription gives the coordinates for transferring this aid: OSBB Irpinski Lypky 43270441, Bank SWIFT Code – PBANUA 2x, Acc No. UA 703052990000026007010125409(c), 08203, Kyivska obl., m. Irpin', vul. Hostomel'ske shose, 24/1.

The very fact of a war crime, abuse of the civilian population, is clearly established. Collateral damage? Definitely not! Missiles aimed destroyed people's home and private cars were shot at hundreds of times. The perpetrators themselves must be identified. This is probably not about one or two Moscow soldiers. It is more about their commanders, and especially the commander in chief in Moscow.

Moscow's way of waging war includes gross violations, as is traditionally the case with a wild horde. The Geneva conventions before the Second World War had no meaning for Stalin, the post-war Geneva Convention had no meaning for Brezhnev, and the Treaty of Rome in 1998, which formed the ICC, has no meaning for Putin. This was visible in Chechnya, Syria and today in Ukraine.

Perhaps the current war will serve to cross the “t's” and dot the “i's” on accountability and there will be consequences, as the Russian Fedir Dostoevsky wrote, of “Crime and Punishment.” For the relevance of not only the ICC, and the structure and the very concept of the United Nations, the victory of Ukraine and the world is necessary. Ukraine and Ukrainians understand this. It is incumbent upon the civilized global community to recognize that the war in Ukraine is not only a Ukrainian war with Russia, but a perhaps final test for civilization.

The Russian Federation currently flexing its veto muscles at the UN Security Council was never formally admitted to the UN, which was formed in 1945, when the Russian Federation did not exist. There is a certain process for a state to join the UN according to the UN Charter.

There was a dissolution, the liquidation of the USSR in Bialowieza Puscha and Alma-Ata in December 1991, then a letter from Ambassador Vorontsov on behalf of President Boris Yeltsin, both then representatives of a state that was not a member of the UN. This letter did not talk about membership but addressed succession. Neither the issue of membership nor succession was discussed at any UN forum and no decision was made. Russia argues that no one protested. But no vote was taken either.

The seat in the Security Council of the defunct USSR is vacant today. The Russian Federation can now submit a request to the UN for its acceptance as a member of the UN. On the basis that the RF is not a founder of the UN, and even more so given her behavior in the international arena over the past thirty years, the Security Council seat is not at issue. RF lacks any credentials to be considered a defender of world security in the UN Security Council.

A place for a demilitarised Russian Federation should be found in the UN so that the Russians can start the process of accepting and acting in accordance with the behaviour of a civilised international community governed by the rule of law, justice and the viability of civil society.


September 21st, 2022: Askold S. Lozynskyi In the photos: a shelled white car with Donetsk license plates, destroyed Irpinski Lypky residences and the author among the ruins of Irpin


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Askold Lozynskyj

Askold Lozynskyj

Askold S. Lozynskyj is an attorney by profession and former president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (1992-2000) and the Ukrainian World Congress (1998-2008).

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