President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of committing genocide and trying to wipe out “the whole nation” of Ukraine, a day after mass graves were discovered and the alleged execution of civilians near kyiv.
“This is genocide. The elimination of the entire nation and the people,” Zelensky told CBS’s Face the Nation show, according to a transcript provided by the channel on Sunday.
“We are Ukrainian citizens. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities,” Zelensky said amid a chorus of international outrage over the behavior of troops Russians in Ukraine.
Three days after the start of the invasion, on February 24, Ukraine filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice in The Hague accusing Russia of “planning acts of genocide”.
In the interview released on Sunday – after footage was released around the world of civilian bodies littering the streets of the town of Bucha near kyiv, and a Ukrainian official said 280 bodies had been buried there in a mass grave – Zelensky seemed to go further.
“We are citizens of Ukraine and we don’t want to be subject to the politics of the Russian Federation. That is why we are being destroyed and exterminated,” Zelensky said, according to the CBS transcript.
“And this is happening in 21st century Europe. So it is the torture of the whole nation,” he added.
Zelensky also called for a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine “to their borders that existed before February 24, at least”.
“That would get us to – start discussing other issues about vacancy, about how we live after this,” he added.
“So I can’t even have a meeting during the shelling. So first the ceasefire. Then we can have a meeting with the Russian president,” Zelensky said.
“Let’s just sit down together. The two of us will discuss. When the end of the war comes, and after discussing together security guarantees and the status of a neutral non-bloc but preserving our sovereignty, a strong army”, said the president.