The legal report, signed by more than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts, accuses the Russian state of violating several articles of the United Nations Genocide Convention. It warns there is a serious and imminent risk of genocide in Ukraine, backing the accusations with a long list of evidence including examples of mass killings of civilians, forced deportations and dehumanizing anti-Ukrainian rhetoric used by top Russian officials.
“We assembled top legal experts from around the globe who then examined all the evidence and they came to the conclusion that the Russian Federation bears responsibility for breaches of the Genocide Convention in Ukraine,” Azeem Ibrahim of the New Lines Institute told CNN. Ibrahim visited Ukraine in March to gather evidence for the report.
“This is a very thorough and detailed examination of extensive evidence,” he said. “What we have seen so far is that this war is genocidal in its nature, in terms of the language being used and the manner in which it is being executed. That’s very, very clear.”
“We have no time at all, we believe that there is a very serious risk of genocide,” Ibrahim said. “Every country that is a signatory to the Genocide Convention, and that’s 151 countries including the Russian Federation, every country has to do whatever it can to put a stop to this, otherwise they will also be in breach of the convention.”
In one of the most chilling parts of the report, the group makes a direct comparison with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, urging the world to act before it’s too late: “The details of the mass murder of over 7,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica only emerged before the international community when it was too late to prevent a genocide that occurred in a matter of days. In 2022, we have the capabilities to accurately track similar atrocities as they unfold and respond accordingly.”
The report points finger directly at Moscow, accusing Russia’s top officials of orchestrating incitement to genocide and laying the groundwork for future genocide by repeatedly denying the existence of a Ukrainian identity.
The Kremlin has forcefully disagreed with President Joe Biden’s statement in April that he considered Russia’s actions in Ukraine a “genocide.”
They also point to the dehumanizing language used by top Russian officials to describe Ukrainians — including worlds like “bestial,” “subordinate” and “filth” — as well as their portrayal of Ukraine as a “Nazi state” and an “existential threat” to Russia.
But the report goes further than alleging Russia is intending to commit genocide, accusing Russian forces of carrying out a “pattern of consistent and pervasive atrocities against Ukrainian civilians collectively” in the course of the invasion.
CNN has independently confirmed many of the atrocities mentioned in the report.
The team of authors includes David Scheffer, who played a pivotal role in talks establishing the International Criminal Court as the first ever US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues.
Canada’s former ambassador to the UN Allan Rock and Charles Taku, the lead counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Special Court for Sierra Leone were also involved.
Apart from legal scholars and genocide experts, the team assembled by the New Lines Institute also includes open source intelligence investigators, and linguists who examined communications intercepts and testimonials.