No war is pretty. And rarely, if ever, is a war fought according to the rules. In fact, a war by the rulebook sounds like an oxymoron.
A case in point is the horrific news stories emerging from Ukraine as the Russian attack on the country continues. Reports of a "massacre" in the small town of Bucha, which lies 23 miles northwest of Kyiv, have shocked the world. The town's mayor claimed that the invading troops had killed more than 300 civilians. Deeply distressing footage of dead bodies in civilian clothes littering the streets has made the headlines. Mass graves with more than a hundred corpses have been discovered. Reports of women and children being raped and tortured have emerged.
Though the Kremlin has categorically denied the allegations, Human Rights Watch has found several cases of Russian military forces committing "laws-of-war violations" in Ukrainian cities under Russian control. An international investigation is likely to take place, and even then, the full extent of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers may never come to light.
According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, Moscow's "special military operation" to "demilitarize" Ukraine has caused 1,035 civilian deaths in the first month alone. But as it points out, "the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration."
The Kyiv region is back under Ukrainian control. Russian troops have been routed out after a month-long siege.
Many claim that President Putin's plans to "denazify" Ukraine are not going according to plan. But then, who knows what the man is thinking or planning? Aggressive as ever, the Russian assault continues in the face of crushing sanctions, world condemnation, and brave-hearted Ukrainian resistance.
President Biden had earlier referred to President Putin as a "war criminal." Calls to bring the Russian president and his military leaders to trial for war crimes have gained momentum. Though it is a long shot at this juncture, it is not unheard of or impossible.
The world's shock and outrage over the Bachu massacre do not seem to deter Russia. It went on the offensive, claiming that the pictures were fabricated and terming it a "provocation." Even as some countries called for "consequences" and tighter sanctions, Russia requested a U.N. Security Council meeting.
The peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv have been dragging on for weeks. The first meeting was held on February 28, just four days after Russia invaded Ukraine, raising hopes for a quick ceasefire or at least a safe evacuation of civilians. Now, in the fifth round, diplomats say "progress" has been made.
Vladimir Medinsky, the Kremlin's chief negotiator, indicated the talks were progressing, with Kyiv having given in to most of Moscow's demands. Ukraine has agreed to give up seeking NATO membership, remain neutral, and renounce nuclear weapons. Yet, Russia is demanding full compliance. Medinsky took to Telegram to state, "I repeat again and again: Russia's position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED."
Russian forces have indeed faced stiff resistance from Ukraine's forces and people. Many are surprised at the setbacks suffered by President Putin's military. Despite this, it is evident that President Putin aims to continue the war until his objectives are reached.
But, the White House claims that President Putin's Ukraine invasion is a "strategic failure." For the world tuned in to news reports from Ukraine, the Biden administration's claim sounds like wishful thinking.
As long as Ukraine's children hide in bunkers to escape missile attacks and civilians are brutally executed in the town's streets by an invading army, it is the world that has failed.
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