Russia and Ukraine: One Year Later
Europe and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine without rational justification and launched a full-scale military attack. With that being said, Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukrainian sovereignty began almost eight years earlier, with the annexation of Crimea, and "fighting between Russian-supported separatists and Ukrainian government forces has continued in the Donbas for the last eight years" (Walker, 2023).
This year marks the first anniversary of what many call the most documented war in history. Atrocities that continue today have left thousands dead and millions displaced: with Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office reporting more than 71,000 crimes committed last year, a number that only continues to grow (Ochab, 2023).
There is even a possibility that these acts could be regarded as war crimes, crimes against humanity, or even Genocide. Genocide scholar Eugene Finkel agrees. Speaking at an online seminar commemorating the conflict's anniversary (hosted in association with The Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Center—CUNY and The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, USHMM) Finkel detailed that Genocide is not only the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation but the killing of their culture as well. Arguing that – by examining the publicly stated intentions of the Russian state – this conflict fits the definition of Genocide, as it is so much more than the destruction of a state and nation (Finkel, 2023).
Despite popular perception, Finkel acknowledges that Genocide need not involve many victims. Instead, it is the intent of the perpetrators, and the logic of targeting, that is key (Finkel, 2023). According to the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention, Genocide is "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group." Finkel believes that the Russia-Ukraine conflict meets these standards and can and should be classified as genocide. The classification and acknowledgment may change perceptions in the West, encourage stricter sanctions against Russia, and deliver more advanced weapons to Ukraine(Finkel, 2023).
“The Ukrainian people cannot wait for “monitoring” the grisly evidence that grows by the day.”(Finkel, 2023)
Sources and Further Reading:
Walker, N. (2023). (rep.). Conflict in Ukraine: A timeline (2014 – present). London, England : UK Parliament
Ochab, E. U. (2023, February 24). One Year Of Putin’s War In Ukraine. Forbes . Retrieved February 25, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2023/02/24/one-year-of-putins-war-in-ukraine/?sh=723188b1728d
Finkel, Eugene (2023, February 24) The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: A Year of War and Genocide [Webinar]. Hosted in association with The Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Center—CUNY and The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, USHMM
Finkel, E. (2022, April 6). Opinion | what's happening in Ukraine is genocide. period. The Washington Post. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/04/05/russia-is-committing-genocide-in-ukraine