Ukraine, Kyiv, Nathan Rott discussed on Morning Edition


Is morning edition from NPR news I'm a Martinez in Culver City California And I'm Rachel Martin in Washington D.C. Russian forces pulled out of some small towns just outside Kyiv and all that is left is utter devastation about 90 minutes outside the capitol in the town of bucha dozens of bodies were found on the streets Ukrainian officials are calling it a massacre saying some of the bodies showed signs of torture and execution Moscow calls the allegations a provocation by Ukraine I talked to NPR's Nathan rott who is in the capital Kyiv Sadly I think this is just the start right These images that we're seeing of bodies that appear to be badly burnt of bodies that appear to have been tied with their hands behind their back Are going to be the conversation in Ukraine for a while And so I think we explained a little of the chronology there You just did But I think it's important for people to understand what is happening is Russian forces invaded these towns north of where I am in Kyiv in the first days of the war They were stopped by Ukrainian forces and last week we started seeing them withdraw from this region altogether Russia says it's doing this as a gesture of goodwill as a sign that they're sincere about peace negotiations I think it's important to note that they continue to launch missiles at targets here Now with Russian troops withdrawn Ukrainian forces are moving into the suburbs and towns like bucha really for the first time in weeks And what they're seeing are these horrifying scenes Here's Kyiv's mayor vitali Klitschko who we talked to over the weekend I just came in right now from north to the city I am a little bit depressed What I saw the old people shoot Civilian To the end old young people women's should buy Russian soldier The bodies everywhere there What is Russia saying about this So Russia is claiming that these images were seeing are fake They say Ukraine is deliberately spreading false information This is something they continue to say through the war I've talked to people who have been in these towns over the last couple of days We're planning to go there tomorrow And you know from what I've heard it is very clear that there are dead people in civilian clothes in these places Human Rights Watch released a report yesterday detailing multiple incidents that appear to be war crimes And this sense we're getting is that more reports like this are coming as Ukrainian forces move into other towns So there are now all these calls for accountability for this from the international community What are you hearing in Ukraine The same And a lot of frustration Ukraine has been calling for more military help from the U.S. and other Western Allies since before this war started They want anti aircraft systems They want fighter jets And you know they are getting military support It sounds like the U.S. is actually helping facilitate the transfer of Soviet era tanks to Ukraine for the first time But there's still a sense and we're hearing that if these images from bucha the accounts of what's still happening right now in harkey even the north and Mario and the south were fighting his ongoing if they don't move the needle for greater western involvement the Ukrainians say it's hard to know what will I actually just finished talking to a man who is working with Ukrainian territorial defense who believes that their starts to become culpability of Western countries if greater intervention isn't taken NPR's Nathan rott in Kyiv thank you Thank you Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN's State of the Union that the U.S. is investigating possible war crimes by Russia We will look hard and document everything that we see put it all together make sure that the relevant institutions and organizations that are looking at this including the State Department have everything they need to assess exactly what took place in Ukraine who's responsible and what it amounts to For more on this we have called on ambassador Pierre Richard prosper He was a war crimes prosecutor for the UN international criminal tribunal for Rwanda and later served president George W. Bush in a senior role as U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes Ambassador thank you so much for joining us this morning Good morning thank you for having me Based on your experience in your estimation has Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine Well it would appear that they have based on the reports that we are seeing we're seeing effectively the unlawful killing of civilians we're seeing potential acts of torture rape all the things that are outlawed by the Geneva conventions and the laws of war Spain's prime minister has called what's happening in Ukraine right now a genocide Poland's prime minister described it that way too Is that the right term to use here Because it carries legal weight It's a very specific phrase Well it does It carries significant weight because under the genocide convention nations are obligated to act But I think right now we should not necessarily be focusing on labels because they determination is a process And it requires deeper analysis to define genocide But what we need to be doing is really focusing on the actions themselves It is clear that atrocities are being committed It is clear that based on the reports that there are violations of the laws of war And that should be sufficient for nations not just the west not just the United States but the entire international community to act Which is very complicated And as you say when you call something of genocide by the international standard legal standard at compels countries the international international community to intervene I mean do you let the process of the investigation keep going Or do you just make the determination now based on what you've seen Well I think the international community needs to take action regardless An investigation does take time to determination does take time but that should not withhold the action of the international community When you see civilians excuse me we see civilians being killed or hands tied behind their backs and executed That should be sufficient We have seen the international community take actions in other areas when civilians have been in harm's way So this should not be any different So what would that look like Well I think obviously I don't have the information that the United States government NATO and others have But I do think we need to continue to support the Ukrainian government give them the materials they need to defend themselves The United States and others should see what other actions are capable But I think what's really important is what you are doing here and what we are doing is we need to continue to shine a light on the actions of the Russian Russian government because we have to make sure that this is undeniable And the more that we can get the global community and I'm talking Europe United States Asia Africa Latin America everyone to condemn and put pressure on the Russian government hopefully it will begin to curb not only curb the action but promote an action of accountability Hopefully it will promote dissent from within where the Russian people themselves see that there is a problem But it's such a messaging war right I mean we've seen these hideous images coming out of the town of bucha outside of Kyiv and Russia's foreign minister Lavrov is already saying that this was a Ukrainian provocation How do you hold Russia accountable by standards and a process that the country is likely to.

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