U.N. must immediately dispatch investigation team

Shocking, gut-wrenching images have aroused intense anger. The United Nations must immediately dispatch a field investigation team to work with international courts to uncover the truth.

Suspicions are growing that Russian forces massacred a large number of civilians in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Bucha had been occupied by Russian troops for about a month, though Ukrainian forces have recaptured it. Western media who were allowed access to the area showed images of bodies left in the street and mass graves.

Some bodies reportedly had their hands tied behind their backs and were shot in the back of the head, and there were signs of torture. Surviving residents testified that Russian soldiers broke into homes to loot them and killed the civilians living there.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the attack as “genocide.”

Russia also attacked a theater where displaced people were gathering in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, resulting in numerous casualties. The brutality of the latest development is even greater in that Russian soldiers killed unarmed civilians right in front of them. These are clearly war crimes.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed the need for an “independent investigation” to determine responsibility. Japan should be among the countries demanding that the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly dispatch an investigation team.

The International Criminal Court, which deals with war crimes, needs to gather evidence and try those who are responsible for killings.

Russia claims that the incident is a fabrication by the Ukrainian side. It must be said that Moscow’s claims greatly lack credibility as Russia has repeatedly made false statements, such as that it will not attack Ukraine and that it will withdraw its troops.

Some have said that the Russian military units were not informed of the entire picture of the invasion and assumed that their involvement would be a short-term military operation or exercise. Did the unexpected counterattack from opponents and disruption of the chain of command lead to barbaric acts?

If the Russian military occupation of Bucha had continued, there would have been no evidence of the massacre. Given the possibility of such a tragedy occurring throughout the country, Russia’s demand for the “demilitarization” of Ukraine is totally unacceptable.

Some in Japan, perhaps out of respect for human life, have argued that Zelenskyy should accede to Russia’s demands in order to reduce the number of casualties among his people, but this logic is difficult to understand.

If Ukrainians stop resisting Russia, it does not mean that they can live in safety. The reality is that people who are not resisting are being slaughtered. An early ceasefire is certainly desirable, but it must be conditioned on the withdrawal of Russian troops and respect for Ukrainian sovereignty.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 5, 2022)